Iran’s ‘Twitter revolution’ was exaggerated, says editor

West accused of focusing too much on social networking sites during last year’s post-election protests in IranIt was described as the “Twitter revolution”, but almost a year on from Iran’s disputed presidential elections, during which the use of social media by the opposition movement made headlines around the world, such claims prompt wry smiles from seasoned observers.Carried away by the enthusiasm of the protests, tens of thousands of Twitter users across the world switched their locations to Tehran in an attempt to confuse Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s henchmen. The US state department official who persuaded Twitter to delay a technical upgrade of its software so that it didn’t occur during a protest was described as the “man who saved Iran”. And a former aide to George Bush even suggested awarding Twitter the Nobel peace prize for its role in the Iran crisis. see:Iran election anniversary protests face severe crackdown
The contrast could not be more striking. A year ago they rallied in their millions, a display of people power draped in green that stunned the world, rattled Iran’s theocratic leadership and promised to jolt the entire region.But this Saturday, on the first anniversary of the disputed elections that gave rise to the biggest challenge to the Islamic republic’s authority in its 30-year history, a repeat of such tumult is hard to imagine. Months of brutal repression that included mass round-ups, a succession of show trials, lengthy prison sentences and grisly executions has emasculated the Green movement. Its leaders, defeated presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have called for a peaceful rally to mark the anniversary. Only a courageous few appear likely to heed the call and brave arrest, beatings or worse.

Evidence shows there is a massive effort to snuff out an anniversary protest. The internet – which enabled protesters to communicate through outlets like Facebook and Twitter – has been used by the leadership to monitor dissent. Activists describe ever-present surveillance on the streets and in cyberspace.

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