Social Media Doesn't Spread Democracy

It’s been a demoralising political summer for the Internet’s social media idealists. The early promise of a democratic Twitter powered revolution in Iran has been replaced by a series of bleak lessons in digital realpolitik. A summer that began so optimistically on the noisy, crowded streets of Tehran, is ending in the silent gloom of a co-ordinated global Internet campaign against a lone Georgian blogger.

Back in June, it seemed that real-time social networks like Twitter and Facebook could help co-ordinate an effective democratic resistance to the authoritarian Ahmadinejad regime. But today, little remains of that optimism except the rather pathetic symbolism of Twitter’s green tinged user-photographs and those dwindling band of western opponents of the current Iranian government who still claim their location as “Tehran”.

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