24 May 2009

When you Facebook, you defeat Ahmadinejad

Months ago, we looked at the social organizing potential of Facebook, particularly in light of a Facebook group which prompted millions to participate anti-FARC protests throughout the world, and caused massive defections from the FARC. (In fact, I even talked about it with USSOUTHCOM Commander, Admiral James Stavridis).

It looks as if Facebook might now have the potential at undermining the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Iran has a massive youth population, and some have speculated that this population is grossly sick of the current regime. Indeed, it looks as if many of them are supporting one of Ahmadinejad's opponents, Mir Hossein Mousavi, in an election coming up some time next month.

Mr. Mousavi has what, in Iran, is considered quite a following: over 5,000 young Iranians have joined his fan page on Facebook. Granted, this pales in comparison to the awesome popularity of Tucker Max (80,000 fans) and the LOLCats (25,000 fans), but it's popular for Iran. Maybe if Mousavi had more tales of drinking, fornicating and accidentally backing a car into a donut shop, he'd have more fans. But I digress.

Mousavi has a number of positions, which, dare I say it, are quite normal after witnessing the last few years of Ahmadinejad--foremost among these positions being that, yes, the Holocaust actually did happen. Unfortunately, he's going to have a difficult time getting out his message among the youth which seem to form his base--Ahmadinejad and company have reportedly blocked Facebook in Iran.

Reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi -- a former prime minister considered a threat to current hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- created a Facebook page for his campaign that has more than 5,000 supporters on the site.

Those attempting to visit Facebook received a message in Farsi saying, "Access to this site is not possible," according to CNN personnel in Tehran.

ILNA reported the Masadiq Committee, made up of representatives from Iran's intelligence ministry, judiciary and others had ordered the action.

After a few hours, the blockage was lifted, but was then reinstated, ILNA said. No reason was given for the block.

"We are disappointed to learn of reports that users in Iran may not have access to Facebook, especially at a time when voters are turning to the Internet as a source of information about election candidates and their positions," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

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