The world of social media is agog with the way the Iranian protestors are using Twitter to send streams of updates from various locations. Some have even gone to an extent of calling it a revolution. On the other hand, social media experts like Gaurav Mishra say that more than a tool to trigger a revolution, Twitter is acting as a medium to organize meets and disseminate related information all over the world. But the importance of Twitter can be gauged from the fact that many from Iran protested when Twitter had to shut down its services due to scheduled maintenance, and there was so much pressure from Iranian Twitter users that the company decided to postpone the maintenance schedule. Twitter users like @StopAhmadi have been featured in Washing Post and New York Times. In fact, according to another buzz, it was the US government that requested Twitter to postpone the scheduled shutdown so that the Iranians could keep on interacting with the international audience at this critical juncture. This NYTimes.com article says:
The request, made to a Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, is yet another new-media milestone: the recognition by the United States government that an Internet blogging service that did not exist four years ago has the potential to change history in an ancient Islamic country.
This was just a call to say: It appears Twitter is playing an important role at a crucial time in Iran. Could you keep it going? said P.J. Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs.
I feel Twitter is a great empowerer. In just a few words, less than 140 characters to be precise, your message can reach thousands, and even millions of people, and for that you dont even need thousands of followers. You just need some people who will be eager to retweet your message to their followers. Remember that American student who was arrested in Egypt and he sent a tweet about his arrest from his mobile phone and the news spread like wildfire? There was so much diplomatic pressure that the Egyptian government had to release him. No news agency or media house could have achieved that so fast.
The use of social media tools seems disorganized sometimes, but I think this is the beauty of it. I would love to see NGOs and activists in India using Twitter to gather and spread information and awareness. Even the normal public. Not just to update your friends on what you have for breakfast or what film you just watched, but also updates on what government officer is demanding bribe, what police person is misbehaving, who is eve teasing a girl at the bus stop, etc. The greatest power, of course, will come from people transmitting Twitter streams from their mobile phones, from rural and far flung areas.