The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

As Andrew Sullivan has exhaustively documented over the last few days, the most fascinating aspect of the brewing revolution in Iran is the way that internet social media, particularly Twitter, has worked to unite, inform, and inspire the rebels.

Twitter, the online service designed to tell the world – in 140 characters or fewer – how your day is going or your date went last night, has unwittingly become the most trusted name in news in the micro-blogosphere. The often-mocked social networking Web site has provided some of the most riveting real-time coverage of the uprising in Iran, where supporters of pro-reform presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi took to the streets again Monday. Iranian activists circumvented the regime’s attempts to block Twitter, flooding the site with their accounts of the day’s violence. Supporters of defeated reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi protest Monday in Tehran. The Iranian government has tried to block Twitter. “It’s 2:25am and I can hear gunshots and people shouting in Kaveh Blvd, It’s nightmarish!… no, It is really a nightmare!” posted one Twitter user identifying herself as ****** in Tehran.

Late Monday afternoon, it became impossible to keep up with the stream of “tweets.” Sympathetic computer experts from around the world tweeted back, offering solidarity in the form of help in evading government censorship. In many cases, people outside Iran provided the Internet addresses of uncensored computers that allowed protesters to bypass the Twitter filter. But the Iranian government caught on and began blocking the addresses as soon as they were posted, Twitterers reported. “They are screening Twitter!” one Iranian wrote Monday afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon Twitter temporarily canceled a planned maintenance downtime after Sullivan and numerous others pointed out that the interruption could affect the events in Iran.