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Social Media: A Catalyst for Revolution

June 22, 2009

No matter what your view on the current Iranian election protests, there is no denying that the eyes of the world are on Iran.  But the world’s eyes are not on TV or Newspapers like you would think – eyes are on social media.

As the Iranian government shut down most telecommunications (internet and television included) to shield them from the rest of the world, social media is providing Iranians the communication channels they need to be heard.

Iranians have been relying on blogs, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook to not just communicate but also communicate effectively with the outside world. This shows the new shear power of social networking: a world without borders.

The sites all have made adjustments to have their services more available for the Iranians.  According to Wired, YouTube recently changed their policy on violent footage. This made more videos available on their site, and Twitter postponed their scheduled site maintenance to make sure their service was available to the Iranians in this time of need.

Facebook and Google also adjusted their sites to help the flow of communication.  They both opened new Persian translation services allowing easier translation from Persian to English in order to educate those in the western world.

A recent article on The San Diego News Network showed how social media was also being used by Persian Americans to stay in touch with loved ones still in Iran. An excerpt from the article:

Sara Hosseinizad – ““I’m sitting here in America in safety and I feel for my (native) country,” said Hosseinizad, who lives in Rancho Bernardo. “In a way, I feel to so helpless. That’s the only way I can help them — be a contact point here and show them we care about them and try to distribute their message to the world.””

Let us think about the power social networking has today and how far it has come.  The days are gone gone where Gen Y just used Facebook for playing Jetman and checking up on old childhood friends they were too embarrassed to call in person.  Long gone are the days when YouTube was for watching crotch shot videos.

Today Twitter, Facebook, Google, and YouTube are facilitating a worldwide political revolution by users of all ages. Twenty years ago people would watch the coverage on TV and some would march.  Today, you can have a truly worldwide voice – be heard by anyone, anywhere in the world.  Revolutions, welcome to social networking!

This new vision of social media as a catalyst for change has potential to alter the way social media is used.  However, will this shift the overall focus of social networking?  Will we start seeing fewer games and more petitions?  Will the US government take notice and have a bigger social media presence?

Only time will tell what affect this will have, but a bookmark needs to be put in this chapter of social media.  The masses understanding the potential power they have  because they hold a username and password might change the world as we know it.

If these sites are helping facilitate a potential revolution, how can your business not use social media?  If Iranians can spread the news of their protests worldwide, why can’t you connect with people across town?  Create a revolution for your business: connect with your customers, listen and adjust.  As we all knew, Gen Y was listening, but now so is everyone else!

Excuse me when I go play Scrabble on Facebook – errrr I mean protest in-state tuition hikes.

The Wired Article: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/06/facebook-google-go-persian-helping-irans-activists/

The SDNN Article: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-06-17/news/san-diegans-rally-network-to-support-iran-protest

Follow Todd on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/toddliss

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 22, 2009 10:13 am

    I think the coverage social media is getting on the news is going to help it grow in all directions – for politics, business, and socializing. If anything, I think we will see a boosted in people creating games and other apps to try to make money off of the situation at hand, and to gain exposure while social media is in the spotlight. When sites like Facebook and Twitter are created they have an intention in mind, but the users really take control of how the technology is used. This event is turning more people towards these social networking sites, will I think in turn will help spark their interest more and result in more people becoming involved with the medium. I can feel like I made a difference by changing my Twitter avatar and time zone, and these things took me only a minute to do. How can we utilize these technologies in the future to make it so people all over the world can easily help whatever situation is upon us?

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