The last few days have seen users of the Internet (and Twitter in particular) flex their muscles in ways that I would not have imagined only a few months ago. Over the weekend, users of Twitters blasted CNN over its lack of coverage of the Iranian elections and the accompanying protests over claims of ballot fraud. Twitter users even adopted the hashtag #CNNfail to highlight a lack of Iran coverage from the news giant. In response, CNN was forced to defend itself and upped its coverage.
Today, it was Twitter’s turn to be on the receiving end of the negative hashtag #NoMaintenance, as Twitter users, including those in Iran, pleaded with the social network to postpone a 90-minute network upgrade scheduled for this evening. Twitter is proving to be one of the few ways that Iranians are able to contact the outside world with reports of the protests against the election results. After thousands of tweets, Twitter and its network partners at NTT America agreed this evening to postpone the scheduled maintenance until tomorrow between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran).
As I watched this develop (and was involved in some small way of my own through VOMC’s Twitter site), I was stunned to see how the influence of thousands of concerned individuals could really make a difference. Because of these actions over the last few days, the pleas of Iranians for fair elections is still being heard. The Iranian government has not been able to silence them as hard as they are trying to do so. Citizens of the world can continue to pressure their world leaders and news organizations to report on stories that concern them and to provide a voice for those who would not have one otherwise. The last few days have convinced me of the wisdom of our mission’s actions in being as heavily involved in the Internet, including Twitter, as we are. It is a powerful tool that God can use. Yes, it can be abused, as all things can. Yes, it can be a time-waster. And maybe tomorrow something better than Twitter will come around. That is the nature of technological advance.
But there are few better ways to raise a voice in today’s world.