I spent this afternoon going through the past ten days of Twitters which includes the keyword Tabriz. The bottom line: There is almost zero to learn from running around the Twitter rumor mill and plenty of annoyances: People who spam it with a dozen postings of the same material, baseless and often ludicrous rumors being canonized as fact and going viral, imperviousness to requests for fact-checking, etc.
My first recommendation is: Boycott arash-kaman1. Twitterers should not encourage sociopaths, and, I’m sorry, publishing a dozen copies of the same rumor is a sign of a sociopathological condition.
Well, you get the idea.
On 18 Tir (July 9), Tehran saw tumultuous demonstrations on the tenth anniversary of the student rebellions of 1999. Quiet were the provinces in general and Azerbaijan in particular. This was some cause for concern. But no worries: one can always twitter a demonstration into existence–much easier than organizing, and safer, too!
But that was the end of any details about that demonstration. But, as in Kelley’s Prayer, as long as you’re going to twitter a demonstration into existence, let’s twitter in … well, let’s see. To their credit, the Twitterers wanted to see confirmation. But this would come soon: The problem is, a click on the link provided had absolutely nothing to do with Tabriz…
The workers were going out on strike in solidarity with the people. In another version, the refinery had been attacked. As time went on, despite repeated requests for some shred of evidence by Oxfordgirl, which were retweeted in the eerie echo chamber which is Tweeter,
Another tweet gave as “evidence” of this strike this anonymous friend-feed link saying, essentially, that there was a strike. Another link, to a Persian site, was rather more elaborate. “According to reports by our friends from one of the institutions connected to the repressive forces,” there had been a secret meeting in which the leaders of one of the labor unions of Azerbaijan decided to get the workers in a refinery to rise up in solidarity with the people, “especially the fighting people of Tehran,” and go on strike. This meeting was discovered (by as yet unknown means) by a spy stationed abroad, who then got the security forces to attack the homes of three of the union leaders, whose names are given. The pity of it is that such a story, which I have only published in abridged form, has not seen wider circulation.
There followed a series of postings in which Tabriz was said to be in a very bad state, swarming with security forces and sweeping arrests.
Here is more.
Another story making the rounds was based on a picture showing the local radio and television services in Tabriz being ignited. The frustrating thing is, I this same story based on this same photo had been making the rounds during the last days of June, and I had written an expose of it June 30.
As I have pointed out elsewhere on this blog, this was a picture recycled from about a year ago.
There was a meeting of 400 activists in the Green movement which was held in Tabriz; the editors said it was the first of its kind, and that gives a clear indication of the level of activity of these forces in that city, despite the claims of the rumor-mongers. Enduring America, which usually knows better, referred to this dinner as “sizable protests in Tabriz.”
And Etemad-e Melli reports that three students in the University of Tabriz were arrested around July 15 and a number of other students were summoned by the security services.
(UPDATE July 30, 2009)
South by South put out a terrific blog entry on rumor-mongering on Twitter, among other things.