Here are a few of the things that we’ve “learned” the last few days about the Iranian elections and their aftermath:
— 3 million people protested Monday in Tehran
— the losing candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was put under house arrest
— the president of the election monitoring committee declared the election invalid on Saturday
These are just a handful of data points that have been shooting around the Internet, via Twitter or the opposition-friendly blogs. And all have been instrumental in building a public opinion case against the Iranian government for undercounting the support for Mousavi.
The problem is, none of them appear any longer to be true. The crowd was in the hundreds of thousands, most newspapers reported. Mousavi’s own wife said he wasn’t under house arrest Sunday, and Monday he appeared in person at the protest. And if the president of the election monitoring commission has gone over to the opposition, no serious reporter has reported it.
And although the Interior Ministry kept broadcasting a communiqué warning that no permit had been issued for the rally, 2 million to 3 million Iranians from a broad cross section of society converged on Freedom Square to demand a recount.The only problem is that no source is quoted--so as far as Sullivan knows, the writer of that article is getting that peace of information from the same source Sullivan did: Twitter. In fact, Sullivan himself admits right afterwards:
Most news outlets reported the crowds were in the hundreds of thousands, but we have no way of knowing the truth.The bottom line:
As we have said many, many times, you should read the tweets, and any other information coming out of Iran, very provisionally.
"Twitter's impact inside Iran is zero," said Mehdi Yahyanejad, manager of a Farsi-language news site based in Los Angeles. "Here, there is lots of buzz, but once you look . . . you see most of it are Americans tweeting among themselves."
However, an Iranian-American activist in Washington said that tweets from a handful of students have been instrumental in getting information to people outside Iran. She spoke on condition of anonymity citing concern that authorities in Tehran could block her from receiving transmissions.