Twitter Actually Good for Something

April 11th, 2009

Posted by: admin

While reviewing the Twitter streams of members of Congress typically does them no favors, there are politically oriented uses that have some traction and value.  Scientific American’s 60 Second Science Blog indicates that Twitter has joined texting (which is pretty much what Twitter based itself on) and other social networking sites as means for organizing political protest. This adds to the use of Twitter for early warning and the distractions of Twitter in the courts, among other (likely) unintended consequences of the service.

The specific example here relates to recent political protests in Moldova over parliamentary elections that some believe were fixed.  While this is reminiscent of other recent political movements in former Soviet republics and their use of technology to organize, there’s no reason to believe the use of these technologies would be limited to that part of the world.  For me the main question is whether or not the technology would remain viable long enough to become a target of oppression.  Some networking sites have a short shelf life, which might make it harder for groups to be found and caught.  It could also provide a leading indicator of unrest in societies – is the government blocking a particular service.  For instance, you can check on the various countries that have blocked YouTube at one time or another (some of these are due to intellectual property rights issues).  As you will read if you peruse the list, it can be difficult for countries to truly clamp down on internet sites, particularly those with global reach.  It doesn’t mean some nation won’t try.

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