The Power of 140 Characters? #IranElection and Social Movements in Web 2.0

  • Alicia Grae Solow-Niederman
Keywords: Social Media, Social Movements, Political Protests, Twitter Revolution, Twitter


This paper analyzes the role of the micro-blogging site Twitter during the contested 2009 Iranian presidential election. It considers just what it means to call the Iranian case a “Twitter Revolution” and relies upon a body of literature discussing netwar, online activism, social media, and social movements. It concludes that a social medium such as Twitter can assist the spread of information and thereby counter the censorship of an authoritarian state, yet may fail to assist citizens of an oppressive regime from physically mobilizing within the country. Ultimately, the Iranian case illustrates that it is through interactions between old and new, between traditional media and micro-blogging, between on-the-ground protests and online activism, that social media like Twitter may contribute on the global stage.