Originally posted on PandoDaily:
In 2009, you couldn’t talk about the Iranian elections and the ensuing protests without mentioning social media. “The Twitter Revolution,” they called it. “The Medium of the Movement.” The meme finally achieved the true distinction of “conventional wisdom” when Malcolm Gladwell felt compelled to dispute it.
But the problem with the narrative wasn’t, as Charles Krauthammer put it, that “Twitter cannot stop a bullet.” It’s that at the time of the protests there were only up to 18,000 Iranians on Twitter, according to Collin Anderson, a researcher who studies Internet freedom in Iran. Most of the tweets that Westerners spread around originated in other countries, wrote Radio Free Europe’s Golnaz Esfandiari at Foreign Policy. In fact, Anderson tells me that perhaps the biggest legacy of Twitter and the Green Movement is that after the protests the government began to associate social media with anti-state sentiment more than ever.