Iranian social media police

Evgeny Morozov, a fellow with Open Society Institute’s Information Program posted a fascinating article in the Foreign Policy: Are Iranian authorities more sophisticated than we think?

On passing through the immigration control at the airport in Tehran, she was asked by the officers if she has a Facebook account. When she said “no”, the officers pulled up a laptop and searched for her name on Facebook. They found her account and noted down the names of her Facebook friends.

This is very disturbing. For once, it means that the Iranian authorities are paying very close attention to what’s going on Facebook and Twitter (which, in my opinion, also explains why they decided not to take

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those web-sites down entirely — they are useful tools of intelligence gathering).

… we have to be fully prepared to be quizzed about any online trace that we have left

… this reveals that some of the spontaneous online activism we witnessed in the last few weeks — with Americans re-tweeting the posts published by those in Tehran — may eventually have very dire consequences, as Iranians would need to explain how exactly they are connected to foreigners that follow them on Twitter

We’ll hear more of this. Karl, chalk one up for opacity.

Via Carl Nordlund and the fabulous SOCNET list. I love you guys.