Morozov’s article, “Iran: Downside to the Twitter Revolution,” discusses the important activist role Twitter is capable of but addresses the fact that it is only useful under certain circumstances. He claims that “understanding how the Internet fits a particular political and social environment is one of the most intellectually challenging tasks facing the U.S foreign policy apparatus in the next decade.” In a way, we (as Westerners) have idealized Twitter as the perfect tool for a revolution: instantly delivering critical yet relatively concise information to the people from the people. However, Morozov says “to ascribe such great importance to Twitter is to disregard the fact that it is very poorly suited to planning protests in a repressive environment like Iran’s.” Putting anti-government information up on public sites (even in private messages) puts peoples’ safety in jeopardy. The Internet strengthens an individuals existing association with a cause by directly tying them to a comment or message, and therefore increases their likelihood of being penalized. He concludes, “a Twitter revolution is only possible in a regime where the state apparatus is completely ignorant of the Internet and has no virtual presence of its own.”
Morozov points out the difference between people immersed in the revolution and people who want to get involved overseas. Americans sent tips to Iranians, recommending ways in which they could “clog the Iranian propaganda machine” and get their message across but this ultimately caused the system to stop working altogether. Instances such as these demonstrate that without the proper planning and previous experience, Twitter can be an ineffective mobilization tool. Morozov also brings up the notion of slacktivism and whether those who join the group “100 Million Facebook members for Democracy in Iran” actually plan to take action or if the group is “just a gigantic exercise in collective transcontinental wishful thinking?” Maybe wishful thinking isn’t such a bad thing. If we aren’t able to be in the country, the least we can do is show our support because no bad can come of it. Do you believe that using the Internet as a means of activism in a repressive country (like Iran) is more dangerous than participating in traditional street protests, rallies, etc.? Is the notion of “slacktivism” lessened in these countries because the government is on-watch and therefore, only avid supporters are likely to voice their opinions online?