Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Iran’s Virtual Reality – Politicians Are Active on Twitter and Facebook!

Hello world, we are tweeting without restrictions from Iran

With this enticing tweet, Dutch journalist Thomas Erdbrink announced from the capital of Iran that Iranians would be able to post on Twitter and Facebook.

However, a day later the digital freedom seemed to be the result of a “technical malfunctioning”.

Social media is a delicate topic for Iranian authorities. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani proclaimed during his election that he wanted to open up internet access. Rouhani himself has an active Twitter account (@HassanRouhani). He tweets in English and Farsi.

The Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif is also on Twitter (@JZarif) and is also active on Facebook.

These two politicians follow in the footsteps of many diplomats and politicians around the globe who have been using social media to explain their views or promote their agenda.

Sometimes politicians even slug it out in cyberspace. The Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt @CarlBildt and the Egyptian Ambassador in Sweden disputed how many demonstrators were killed by Egyptian forces, with the Swede tweeting: “@Osama_Elmagdoub So they all shoot themselves? Try another one”.

No matter what, the recent tweets of Rouhani and Zarif are groundbreaking. Even Ayatollah Khamenei (@Khamenei_ir) wants to communicate with the outside world via social media.

Zarif even used twitter on September 5 to wish Jews a Happy New Year @JZarif “Happy Rosh Rashanah” – quite ironic since the previous Iranian President denied the Holocaust. Rouhani claims that “We never denied it. The man who was perceived to be denying is now gone. Happy new year.” Quod erat demonstrandum (QED).

It would be great if the tweets would indicate a new era of freedom. I would love Iran to confront @BarackObama in cyberspace. Who knows – social media couls even contribute to peace!

It’s hard to prevent people to go online and connect with whoever they want across the globe. Even with restrictions, there are ways to circumvent censorship, so just go with the flow! I’m sure the NSA agrees with me…

(Image courtesy of: © kebox - Fotolia.com)

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