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By Milana Knezevic / 23 January 2014
During the World Economic Forum currently taking place in Davos, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani dropped some major news — he doesn’t write his own social media messages.
.@hassanrouhani: “I don’t write my tweets. So what you read as my tweets and on Facebook is not written by me but is written by my friends”
— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) January 23, 2014
While there has been some confusion in the past about who actually runs his accounts (English and Persian), this confirmation from the man himself may come as a blow to his hundreds of thousands of followers. Since bursting onto the Twitter scene, the 140-characters-or-less long messages — from (later denied) holiday greetings…
…to (later deleted) details of chats with colleagues…
— have been known to cause a stir. Indeed, large parts of Iran’s political elite seem to have taken to social media, as accounts were “set up for every candidate” in last year’s presidential election. Even Ayatollah Khamenei appears to have his own Facebook page.
Meanwhile, most Iranians don’t have the same privilege. Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are all blocked in the country. The crackdown on social media came in the wake of the massive 2009 protests known as the Green Revolution. But Rouhani — or rather, his Twitter team — told the site’s founder back in October that “efforts” were being made to allow citizens to “access all info globally”.
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) October 1, 2013
Maybe today’s comments were part of these efforts? Maybe all the citizens of Iran have to do to access social media freely, is become friends with a high-ranking politician?Iran | Rouhani | Twitter
About Milana Knezevic
Milana Knezevic is the Assistant Editor, Online and News of Index on Censorship
Index on Censorship has dedicated its milestone 250th issue to exploring the increasing threats to reporters worldwide. Its special report, Truth in Danger, Danger in Truth: Journalists Under Fire and Under Pressure, is out soon. Highlights include Lindsey Hilsum, writing about her friend and colleague, the murdered war reporter Marie Colvin, and asking whether journalists should still be covering war zones. Stephen Grey looks at the difficulties of protecting sources in an era of mass surveillance.