“Was there a Twitter revolution in Iran? To Iason Athanasiadis, an independent journalist whose detention there sparked a global uproar that culminated in his release, the answer comes quickly: No.”
A thoughtful piece on the Dart Center blog about Iason Athanasiadis’ recent talk at Columbia University. “Twitter was the great excuse of the Western media,” the journalist argued. But it did play a crucial role, he said.
“When using social media as a reporting tool, Athanasiadis is careful to triangulate. ‘I’ve never really quoted anyone that I’ve never met,’ he said. The same could not be said for much of the Western press, who, faced with the alternative of reporting nothing, often relied on broadcasting messages and videos before investigating their provenance. It was one such video, of Neda Agha Soltan dying after being shot in the chest, that became the most powerful and recognizable symbol of the protests.
“The video turned out to be authentic, but social media also helped spread false images of Neda, inflated protest tallies, and rumors; the multitude of non-Iranian Twitter users who changed their stated location to Tehran made parsing the authentic from the inauthentic all the more difficult.”