More Dubious Internet 'Activism' around Iran Protests

Last month we reported that Twitter was not the widespread organizing tool for activists in Iran that the media painted it to be. Today, in light of new protests, the Wall Street Journal have found more online myths.

The paper report that videos are being faked — perhaps by the Iranian government — to discredit the would-be-revolutionaries and caricature them in as extremists in the eyes of other Iranians.

A video posted Monday morning on foreign events blog enduringamerica.com, hosted by a University of Birmingham professor, showed someone burning a poster of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader, before a crowd of cheering people. Several readers thought the image was suspicious, in part because it didn't show the burning poster and the crowd in the same shot.

It also didn't appear to match other video taken at the university, said Scott Lucas, a professor of foreign policy at the university who started the blog.

It was eventually pulled. The Journal, to its credit, explains the arduous and time-consuming process of getting information out of Iran when authorities are confiscating cellphones and censoring the internet.

...some Iranians pass video from cellphone to cellphone by Bluetooth, which allows for wireless transmission of data. It can eventually go to someone who has access to a reliable Internet connection, such as in a university library or even in government offices, he said.

This sounds significantly more plausible than the reports in June of a widespread 'Twitter revolution'. Apparently fighting a totalitarian government, one far from averse to finding out where you're tweeting from and, you know, killing you, is not as simple as it was painted after the elections in June. The real trouble comes after you write a 140-character message or take video on a camera pen mailed to Iran from the US. Which gives us more cause to support those brave enough to get information out.