For my project this semester I have decided to focus on Iran and its current internal deliberations regarding the Internet and censorship. In the beginning of the twentieth century, Internet use was relatively open to the public, but after the rigged 2009 elections, students turned to Internet activism to arrange protests and riots. It is important to mention that this was student led, because ninety-five percent of the Iranian population is under the age of sixty-five and the median age is only twenty-five. Once the protests erupted, it was the first time western media had access to live footage from inside the Iranian borders. Students were uploading amateur videos and pictures to YouTube, blogs, Facebook, and most importantly and specifically, Twitter. Hardliners of course, were furious that the Iranian people were giving information about the protests to the west and instantly shut down Twitter in the country. Twitter is now only one of five million websites banned in Iran!
People around the world were completely transfixed by the press Iran was receiving. The Internet community around the world began showing its support with millions of retweets and the hashtag #Iran Elections. I think the most important event to come out the protests was the innocent killing, now considered martyrdom, of Neda Agha-Soltan. She was a bystander shot in the heart by the militia and the video drew international attention.
I think there have been trends of both technological determinism and cultural materialism in Iran. On one hand, the emergence of social networks paved the way for new methods of communication among the people. But on the other hand, because of the actions and culture of social media, the government is now in charge of exactly what kinds of media and technology will be introduced next. I believe the ongoing negotiations among government officials regarding censorship contributes to the study of International Media because it will not be long that the laws in Iran are going to change, and as a result impact how media is translated from this mysterious country in the Middle East.