Sunday, May 31, 2009

Facebook and Election Campagin in Iran, Greens vs Blues!

Shohreh, a 23 years female art student in Tehran, began her day near noon with Facebook.

Sitting on the suffa, drinking her coffe and checking links, notes, status, photos, videos and comments on Facebook, but at Saturday 23th May, when she went to the usual page, found a message from Islamic Republic’s Communication minstry that Facebook is filterd in the country.
The message make her upset, that means she may lose all her online communication and friends, events and changes, but this was not really a big shock!
Everybody knew soon or later FB will be filterd again. We found that FB is not anymore filtred in Iran in last February while sudenlly got a lot of friend requests fro Iran.

Facebook itself condomed the filtering and called it shameful and even some of close adminstrations of Mossavi seeing it as a another pressure to cut accessing the information about Mossavi’s platforms, Yesterday even Kahrobi condomed it.
On Wedensday Mahmod Ahamadinejad stressed during a press-conference that he is not ordering the filtering of it. Following the confrence, facebook users in Iran found it open again.

Ahmadinejad also said: "I believe in maximum freedom of expression."
Many Iranians recently joined Facebook as a way of communicating and during election-time since it is an interactive media that allows involvement in politics whilst all other medias inside the country are under the harsh censorship.

However,It has been said at the first timeFB could help inteligence agents in Iran gathering information about journalists, deisenters, human rights activists, bloggers and women movment.
They even hacked my FB and Gmail and accessed some information about my projects. They also made a similar ID with my name added my friends or political activists on FB and asked some information, when I noticed report the fake ID to FB and they delet it.
Maybe at least they got valuable information about subjected people, like recent photos, recent conections and their planes, trips and even adresses and telephon numbers.

Since last month Iranian community on FB devided in two huge groups, pro-reformists (Greens) and pro-bycott (Blues).

Many groups and notes has published on defence of each approach, in one, pro-reformists blaming pro-bycott for Ahamadinejad’s victory in last election, in that election he got more than 17 million votes,however that election faced with the vaste bycotte movement and about 41% didn’t participate in second round of it.
But in the other one the debate is more hot, many people beliving participating in election means vote to Islamic Republic which has less legitmacy nowadays in public opinion.

When Mir Hossein Mossavi’s fans colored their profiles photos in green as a color of his election campagin, the deisenters also colored their profile photos in blue, then two big groups of Iranians in Facebook facing each other many online friends removed from each others list and arguments replaced with accusation and anger.

The Greens acctualy started the huge attack aginst bycooting supporters to make them passive, the kind of propaganda against the Blues, brought waves of critics, specialy when pro-Mosavi used a popular radical leftist’s song in their Youtube clip.

The song was belonged to the most popular leftist group called Fedaeian Guerilla fighted agianst Shah Regime, “Aftabkaran e Jangal” (The Sun seeders in Jungell) is a populae song still singing in Iran as a leftists solgan, but suddenly stolen by pro-Mossavi’s and broght a deep anger reaction on FB.

Mossavi, himself is accused as the one of main persons who leads the supression of political oppssitions and mass killing of political prisoners in 1980’s.

As the conforting between two wings in FB is climaxing, it is obvious pro Mehdi Kahrobi’s are in the minority and pro Ahmadinejad (Red) are a few.
In my Iranian list, I have about 30% Blue, 45% Green, 10% pro Kahrobi and 15% wanderers or not intersted to politics one.
From last week, pro Kahrobi’s who are using White seems being increased on FB, while pro Mossavi’s are getting more quite comparing the past week.

One of the most intersting debates on FB happened when I invited Ebrahim Nabavi my famouse coullegue who supporting Mossavi for the first online debate on Iran’s election on Facebook, about 200 people participated in the debate while they need to refresh the page can read each side respond.

But only my friends could read the text, so I put it on a blog and the blog got a number of 3500 visits at first night and 4400 at second night on Friday and suddenly both blog and FB has filterd in Iran on Sataurday, so the number of vistors decresed to about 550 vistors and only 20% of them were from Iran.

Iranians have a large number of FB users, one of FB PR’s told me they don’t have an exact data about countries detials, but some experts are estimating about 3.5% of Internet users in Iran participating FB from March till end of May, this should be about 700,000. Iran has about 20 millions internt users, one of the most accesses in the Middel East and at the same time one of the most restricted countries in the world for censoring the internt.

Shohreh, who told me last night spending less minutes to access FB than yesterday because of new proxy, finding many ways in her mail box and even wall to reach the FB, one of this helping message is from me, recomonding Firefox adds one for anti-blocking FB.
She still not decided wheather she wants to vote for reformists or want to bycote the election like last term, but following arguments and links on FB, communicating with people about current events and share her ideas on FB.

All togeather she wants have fun, she told me she just found her beloved high school clasemate in LA and just “meeted” a few intersting guys.
While we are aproaching the election time in less than 3 weeks, Greens and Blues countinung their competition to collect more supporters.

However for Shohreh and many young people like her Facebook is a part of their private life in social network, sharing hidden interstes with others, like other illigal things in Iran you can find in many houses, new Hollywood movies, Satelite TV and underground music.

Shohreh is now going to sleep, saying goodbye to me on chat while I am reciving many chat texts from different type of people from a peoet girl in Tehran to a leader of an opposite group, but she really happy can access FB tomorrow as usual tomorrow noon again, while she was online for about 18 hours, she said tomorrow she will post on FB her point of view about Ahamdinejad’s election speech on state TV.

Photo Credits:
1+4: Samar
2 : Behanm Sahvi


France 24 Observers' Version

26/05/2009 / IRAN
Facebook ban lifted: “the only place where we can talk about politics”

No wonder the authorities wanted Facebook banned. But Iranian Facebook users are heaving a sigh of relief today after access to the site was reopened this morning. So what was all the fuss about? One of our Observers in Tehran explains the election debates raging on the online social network and why President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad probably isn't a big fan. Read more...
Contributors Shohreh.
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