FP About, Twitter, democracy and overthrowing dictatorships
August 8th, 2009

Foreign Policy August 6 2009 ‘”Authoritarian regimes should fear Twitter”

Combined with other tools – e-mail, social networking, and blogs — Twitter can certainly be helpful in spreading news about upcoming flashmobs and protests. The demonstrations following Moldova’s disputed election earlier this year were a perfect example, where a dozen local Twitter maniacs used the service to spread news about their flashmob. Eventually, their campaign (which went beyond Twitter and included Facebook and LiveJournal as well) attracted thousands of people and spilled into loud protests. While the Moldovan “Twitterati” had very little impact on the events on the ground, they did a great job using Twitter’s global, viral reach to keep the protests in the international news.

However, Twitter use in authoritarian countries comes with major drawbacks. Twitter creates an extensive online paper trail that can be easily used against dissidents. In fact, as Twitter use becomes more common, authoritarian governments are likely to exploit Twitter to gather open-source intelligence on the opposition — not a difficult task for anyone with an Internet hook-up. So Twitter could help authorities identify dissent at very early stages, tracking not just individual activists, but entire activist networks. An online friend list could enable a serious crack-down“.

Also notice Foreign Policy’s Twitterati 100 the 100 best Twitter users in international affairs !!!

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