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The real winner of the elections in Iran: Twitter Users – Part I

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Another day, another countless tweets that kept me abreast of what was going on in Iran: welcome to the digital age.

Every news junkie out there will tell you: while major international news networks such as the CBC, the BBC, CNN and RFI (to name a few) had barely mentioned anything about the situation in Iran early Saturday, Twitter users around the world were already aware that something wasn’t quite right. The week-end of June 13th and 14th might be recognized in the future as the day where Twitter stopped randomly tweeting and started singing songs of justice.

Throughout the entire day, people – youth, mostly – inside Iran sent updates via Twitter on what was happening. And, as an outpouring of concern and support, thousands of Twitter users sent support, encouragement and advice right back to them, in what has become something of a news-conversation-tweeting exchange.

It’s time-consuming, exhausting,  shocking at times, overwhelming at others, but is also the best way to realize the reality that “the world is but one country and mankind its citizen”. It takes only a few seconds, and everyone around the world can know what is going on in your backyard. Amazing! Direct access to information from the people living it, rather than it being filtered and translated by biased opinions! If any technology is to empower the grassroots to make the world a better place, this has to be it.

However, while reveling in the newfound extent of Twitter’s usage, Twitter users are also cautiously wary, just like any web-savvy individual should be. Because unfortunately, personal/political agendas and rumors – some extremely dangerous – are also being tweeted. And, when its short, telegraphic format meets an intense situation such as the Iranian Elections, it only takes one well worded tweet placed at the right place at the right time to spark unjustified fury. Perhaps it’s the Internet version of the mob behaviour, and it has already happened in the last 2 days on Twitter; there have been a couple of rumors that were tweeted, and it took users a couple of hours to purge it out of the trending topic of #IranElection.

So it seems that, once again, moderation is key; while the temptation to re-tweet information to share it to an ever increasing number of people is very present, especially when strong feelings of outrage in the face of human suffering are involved, these are the times where we must be even more careful.

To fellow Twitter users: keep sharing information and spreading the word on any worthwhile cause, continue raising awareness, but make sure you are sharing the right information.

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