October 06, 2011

One #IgNobel yet to be awarded - to #Zuckerberg?

If the Nobel Peace Prize committee's hints are right about social media getting "honored" as part of this year's prize, giving it to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would be a truly Onion-esque parody or farce, especially coming just a couple of years after the Nobelers honored Dear Leader with the prize as what was seen as a deliberate slap at President Bush and, as has been shown by subsequent events, was not warranted.

First, Robert Fisk, in his latest dispatch engages in shooting down inside-Iran rumors, showing how Twitter was "problematic" in rumor spreading during the Iranian election crisis in 2009.

Related: As Foreign Policy notes, starting with the fact of the hashtag "#iranrevolution" being in English, not Farsi, Twitter had almost no impact inside Iran during last year's post-election tumult.
A number of opposition activists have told me they used text messages, email, and blog posts to publicize protest actions. However, good old-fashioned word of mouth was by far the most influential medium used to shape the postelection opposition activity. There is still a lively discussion happening on Facebook about how the activists spread information, but Twitter was definitely not a major communications tool for activists on the ground in Iran.
Beyond that, the idea that there was a "Twitter revolution" sounds more like Western blogger/online guru vanity than anything else.

And, on the home front, Facebook and Twitter both, but especially Facebook, is part of the Internet's social media dark side.

Related to that is the fact that, like their predecessors with newspapers, savvy authoritarian governments will allow just enough social media to serve as a release valve while spying on its users.

(To his credit, Marky Mark downplays how much value FB was in the Arab Spring.)

Almost as IgNobel would be giving the prize to the EU, after still-not-over Libya war with rebel "coalition" that has decoalesced rapidly in recent days.

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