Information today is a precious commodity as the Iranian regime cracks down, severely limiting our ability to report there. Protestors and media inside Iran have turned to Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging to get the word out about what's going on.
Nicholas Thompson, a senior editor at "Wired" magazine, spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday about the social media phenomenon in Iran.
Kiran Chetry: First of all, are we overstating the role of social networking in organizing these rallies in Iran?
Nicholas Thompson: I think we're overstating the role of Twitter. I don’t think we’re necessarily overstating the role of cell phones, Facebook, or social networking in general.
Chetry: So what is Twitter being used for in Iran?
Thompson: Twitter is being used for some internal communications. What it's really being used for is getting the word out to the outside world. The great thing about Twitter is you can have as many followers as you want and anybody can read anything. It's a completely open network.
So it's great if you want to get news to your friends in America, people in the media in America who are watching and playing an important role in this drama. But if you actually want to organize a protest and if you actually want to get people to together at 6 o’clock, Twitter is kind of sort of useful, but it's not being used by everybody in Iran the way that it's sometimes portrayed as here in the United States.
A man with unique insight into the events that are playing out in Iran is Moorhead Kennedy. He was the acting head of the United States’ Embassy's economic section in Tehran when it was overrun by student protesters in 1979.
Kennedy was one of the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days in that standoff. He wasn't released until January 20th, 1981 when President Reagan was inaugurated. Kennedy spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.
John Roberts: Do you see any parallels between what we’re seeing on the streets of Tehran now and what happened in 1979?
Moorhead Kennedy: Well, I think the biggest parallel is that at least some of the reaction against us in '79 was because...of past interference in Iranian affairs. And I think that there seems to, be from a lot of talk going around, that we should do something…about this election problem in Iran. It's the attitude that we have sometimes about Iran, a rather colonial attitude that has always been part of our problem with that country. And so I think if I had any conclusion to draw, we would have been much better off not interfering in Iran then and I think we're going to be much better off not interfering in Iranian affairs now.