Twitter and the events in Iran

Head of BBC News, Richard Sambrook, has blogged about the issues with sorting through the outpouring of tweets from Iran.

He cites a list of rumours which I’ve also seen flowing around. None are yet confirmed but many have the ring of truth (or past practice) behind them.

Interestingly, he doesn’t use the rumours to damn Twitter, saying:

If you had a reasonable understanding of social media, how to set up and assess feeds, how to compare and contrast information, if you had a reasonable understanding of news flows, a developed sense of scepticism, and an above average understanding of the political situation in Iran, you would have emerged much better informed than the lay viewer relying on TV or Radio news. The information online ran significantly ahead of the news organisations (who hopefully were taking time to check what they could) but it came at a high noise to signal ratio….(at one point I measured almost 2500 updates in a minute – though usually it was closer to 200)

There are at least two other uses which I have watched Twitter be put to.

This is in addition to being an information distribution channel inside Iran – there is an official Mousavi Twitter account – and a great boost for the protesters seeing the support from the rest of the world.

As well thousands of followers around the world have narrowed down the individual accounts they should follow from the fast-flowing river that #iranelection has become.

Many have been following Change_for_Iran, a student who has been tweeting, sometimes harrowing messages, throughout the siege of Tehran University.

Another good source has been StopAhmadi who has tweeted at a furious rate but has made a point of saying if information is confirmed or not.

For more see this FriendFeed compilation of messages coming from Inside Iran.

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Good post. I like the reporter how he told a balanced view of Twitter. It is a good way to get an immense amount of information that is super up to date. But that doesn’t mean it rules out the value of TV, radio, etc. I think different channels have separate values and we must utilize them for each. Personally, that’s why I find the format of turning a day’s tweets into a blog like we are doing here with sweet govtweets. You can see the flow of dialogue and begin to see for yourself trends and how trends are being de-bunked when needed and how good information rises.