I have spent the better part of this day quietly contemplating in my head what Twitter should do about the situation in Iran. If you're just joining us, they're killing students in Tehran and there seems to be a mini-revolution going on because of the election. It's bloody and it's bad, and the only way a lot of news is getting out is THROUGH Twitter.
But the students and other Iranian citizen journalists are starting to have a hard time getting through to the proxy servers they've been using to access Twitter. The Iranian government is actively working to censor them and to shut down any news getting out of the country. There are a lot of good people out there who are trying to run proxy servers to help the Iranians access Twitter to get the news out; there's one guy in LA who says he has up to 750 people hitting his server every minute, according to the NY Times. But as soon as the proxies go up, the Iranian government is working to shut them down.
There's little that we can do as private citizens. I have no way to march to Iran and tell them to stop killing their citizens. But I think that a public company, such as Twitter, has a bit more responsibility, especially since their service has become practically the only news source for the entire rest of the civilized world. Even major newspapers are pulling stories off of it. It's a revolution in journalism that shouldn't be stopped by a government that attempts to govern through violence.
I think that Twitter has a moral responsibility to help the people getting killed in Iran. I know it's a difficult thing for a private entity to act against a foreign nation, but there are extra servers they can set up. There are ways they can help provide more proxies. There are ways that they can globally fuck with the Iranian government's censorship. I think they should do it. I think they have a responsibility as a business that has unwittingly gotten embroiled into politics; I think they must act or they will regret doing so. Even now, the United States State Department is urging Twitter to once again delay system maintenance, so as to keep the posts from Iran flowing.
I have great faith in the hivemind of the Internet. I have great faith in the power of the people. I have great faith that if enough of its users demand that Twitter do something, then they will be forced to do so via the will of the people. So please retweet this blog post. Please leave comments, as I'm eager to hear your opinions; comments are moderated, but I release them quickly. Please link to it and spread the word. If we say nothing, if we try to do nothing, then we are just as guilty in those deaths.
In the meantime, here's some other stuff that you can do, via Scott Westerfeld.