Scenes from the cyberfront in the Iranian struggle

"Iranelection" has remained the most popular topic on Twitter for several days.

By ILANA STRAUSS, ARIEL ZIRULNICK
June 22, 2009 01:38
3 minute read.
Scenes from the cyberfront in the Iranian struggle

iranian computer 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

Despite censors and efforts to block certain Internet sites, Iran's online opposition continues to play out on the Twitter and Facebook social networking sites and on new ones springing up every day. "Iranelection" has remained the most popular topic on Twitter for several days. At midday on Sunday, it was registering several hundred posts an hour - from protesters in Iran and from people around the world hoping to disseminate information and show solidarity. Meanwhile, a new Web site called "Iran Unrest" was streaming tweets (micro-blog posts), popular links, news articles, videos and photographs relevant to the situation in Iran onto one page so they can be easily accessed. In the afternoon, the site was registering more than 7,000 tweets per hour about Iran. It can be accessed at http://iran.twazzup.com. Facebook profile pictures and Twitter icons are rapidly changing from images of users to pictures and graphics showing solidarity with Iranian protesters. One of the most popular icons contains the phrase "Where is my vote?" against a green background, the color of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. The words are sometimes accompanied by a bloody hand or gun. Non-Iranians also are sporting the icon, with the word "their" printed over the word "my." Others have made their pictures and icons plain green, or have placed a green screen over their normal pictures and icons. Iran.greenthumbnails.com is asking people to post their green screen icons on the site. As of Sunday afternoon, more than 3,000 people had done so. The site also provides links to directions on using proxy servers to bypass Iranian Internet censorship and the Web sites of embassies in Iran accepting wounded demonstrators, as well as to emergency medical information in English and Farsi, in hopes that the information will make its way to Iranians who need it. One of the main Facebook groups created in support of Mousavi had more than 80,000 members as of Sunday. More than 500 other groups show up in search results for the word "Iran," most of them tied to the June 12 election in some way. The popular photo-sharing site Flickr returned over 200,000 results when searching for photos using the word "Iran." The flood of information on the Internet continues despite users' fears of being tracked down by Iranian officials, whom many suspect are monitoring Internet activity and masquerading as opposition supporters. "It's difficult to fully trust the news, because people suspect that many Web sites have been 'hacked by the government,' and the regime censors the opposition newspapers," said Behrooz, a student at the Isfahan University of Technology in Teheran. Many Iranians are changing their Twitter and Facebook names to avoid being tracked by the government. Even on Twitter, Iranian users are wary of giving out information. When a Jerusalem Post reporter attempted to contact protesters via Twitter to find out more details about the situation on Sunday, users warned one another not to trust her. The Post "[reporter] is an Iranian government agent, do not respond to messages" was sent repeatedly. Another reply said, "[Reporter] is Basiji [pro-regime militia], want to cheat you to get a report from you if you're in Iran!" However, one Twitter user contacted replied: "[My] whole family have taken part in the demonstration! Yesterday we have lost my 18 old cousin! Maybe tomorrow is my time! But I don't give up! I am 25 old and have seen in Iran just abasement! It is enough! I present my life to the next generation!" Iran has barred foreign journalists from reporting since last week and is said to be censoring most news. The most reliable reports emerging from the Islamic Republic are short videos of the clashes recorded by Iranian citizens, Behrooz said. The most talked-about video shows the shooting of a young woman protesting with her father in Teheran on Saturday. She has become known as Neda and her name has become a rallying cry for Mousavi supporters around the world. "Our right is talking with all people all over the world in freedom," said an Iranian contacted via Facebook who asked to remain unnamed. "I don't know what can I say, but we want our Iran."


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