Whatever we feel about politics in Iran, what are the implications for social media ?

I was just working out my response to social media being hi-jacked by campaigners when I got news that Twitter had come under cyber attack.

It appears that a group claiming to be the Iranian Cyber Army managed to redirect Twitter users to its own site displaying a political message. The hi-jack seems to be in response to people using Twitter to discuss democracy in Iran and to link up with other campaigners.

Whatever we feel about politics in Iran, what are the implications for social media ?

In the bad old days news and opinions were published in the newspapers and were obviously subject to the control and political opinions of their owners. Those with other ideas could either start their own publications or campaign in a more direct way, taking their views to the streets.

Now with the arrival of social media anyone can have a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account and everyone can have their say (subject of course to restrictions placed on them by their home government.)

In general  it is a profoundly democratic step forward.

Which brings me to the issue I was pondering in the first place.

There is a campaign, started on Facebook, to make the band Rage Against the Machine the Christmas number one single rather than Geordie Joe who won the X Factor. Can I complain if little Joe loses out ?  Nope I don’t think I can, although he seems like a really nice bloke and I think he deserves his five minutes of fame.

We have to accept that social media are just pathways, like  roads or phone lines. They are neutral, enabing things to happen. We can’t choose what.

Can we police social media though ? Clearly hi-jacking Twitter is not legitimate use. But what about hateful politics like racism ? Should accounts be denied to racists and what about spam ? After all that is just selling and there are plenty of people using Twitter to sell stuff even if it is very subtle and comes under the umbrella of ‘marketing’.

These are questions I would really like answers to. If you have any thoughts it would be great to share them.

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