With the Iranian government clamping down on journalists and coverage, much of what we know about the situation has reached us via social media, something completely unheard of just a few years ago. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube has been front and center in the Iran coverage. It has helped Iranians communicate with each other and the entire outside world. It has also helped us all better understand what's going on, despite the Iranian government's attempts to silence the coverage. Last weekend marked the bloodiest days in the Iran election crisis so far. Gory pictures and disturbing videos instantly spread around the internet. A young Iranian woman was shot and killed for just standing on the street and talking with family and friends. Her death, captured on cell phone video, has ignited worldwide protest. "You're taking something that is obviously really raw and emotional and you're turning that into a rallying cry. I mean that's what people are doing now with that video is turning her into a figure that represents the whole struggle,” said UNCW professor Jeanne Persuit. The graphic 40-second video uploaded on Youtube and several other social media outlets on Saturday quickly circulated internationally. To the outside world, the video became the representation of the turmoil and frustrations Iranian protestors are facing. The role social media like twitter and Youtube have played in the Iranian chaos exemplifies the importance and power social media can have on the fate of a country. "You have people posting the cat posts on twitter you know this is what my cat did today, you know I ate cereal this morning and then you have people tweeting about the most serious thing you can think of,” Persuit said. "This is the highest purpose that social media can aspire to is bringing people freedom and giving people the opportunity to speak and be heard and engage in dialog and hopefully come to some sort of resolution to this issue." The killing of the young Iranian woman is reminiscent of the Kent State shootings in this country during the Vietnam War. Four students were killed during a peace demonstration in May of 1970 and some historians say that was the turning point in ending that war. But those pictures were broadcast on American television in a country where the media was free to report. During the Iran election crisis, Twitter was supposed to temporarily shut down for procedural up-dates, but after a request from the U.S. Government, Twitter founders pushed back the scheduled downtime.
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