Learning the Twitter Rules of Engagement

hash tags: #iranelection #gr88 #tehran


Reading List:

A journalistic conundrum: When does Twitter count as a reliable source?

U.S. Government Asks Twitter to Stay Up for #IranElection Crisis

Twitter Reschedules Maintenance Around #IranElection Controversy

State Dept. to Twitter: Iran too important, site fix can wait

“Inane and Half-Baked” Twitter Is the Forrest Gump of International Relations

Iran Election for Beginners


If Twitter is being used for the first time to provide a tool for revolutionaries, it, as a tool, has unnamed dangers. Those dangers have to be learned in the process of Twitter being used. As the dangers surface so do the reactive rules.

But the first rule regards by-standers:

Messages, requests, cries for help fly across the Twitter page in massive numbers. Confused by-standers  in the process of witnessing through reading the history processing in front of their eyes find remaining a bystander difficult. People don’t want to be by-standers. They want to help,  want to participate, be part of what is happening. The media form is too raw, the voices too direct.


So the First Rule of Twitter Engagement has to be: if you have no idea what’s going on, stay out of it. As enticing as it is to want to help, you can put others in harm’s way which is  something many  are learning now and over the last four or five days.


Next I offer, here, a list of rules as they were expressed by different voices who I have not identified. As they exist they are the new Rules of Engagement in using Twitter for any revolutionary operation. I’ve taken these directly from the Twitter posts.

Again to all who wish to help, PLEASE DO NOT BROADCAST PROXY SERVERS! Set them up but only DM to people in Iran #IranElection

Jun 15, 2009 11:58 PM GMT ·

Don’t overload #iranelection with things not about iran as it is becoming hard to follow and share news inside Iran

Jun 15, 2009 11:54 PM GMT

Iranian government is watching Twitter; when RTing Iranians, replace username with “Iran” (“RT from Iran”). #IranElection Please RT

Jun 15, 2009 11:57 PM GMT

WARNING! Do NOT go to shortened links or RT unless you know the Twitter ID who originates #IranElection #gr88 #Tehran RT PLZ

Jun 16, 2009 11:40 PM GMT

BE AWARE! @FreeMediaNews is a liar and spreading governmental propaganda! #IranElection

Jun 16, 2009 11:58 PM GMT ·

Links of Twitter accounts that are possible spies or trolls: http://twitspam.org/?p=1403 Check out. #iranelection #gr88

12 minutes ago from web

These lessons of revealed names and addresses are obvious in retrospect but the use of the tool was so new that the realization that both censors and those who wished for a changed Iran could use the interface. Not only was Twitter being used as a means of getting information out – but as a way to track down the revolutionaries.


One of the more remarkable posters for me and one who caught my attention early on was @persiankiwi. @persiankiwi’s proxies were being broadcast in an attempt to keep lines open or to indicate which lines were shut down. Folks who wanted to help were providing available proxies in replies. But the government or the censors were blocking the IP’s as quickly as they were made available.

Here is one extended series of Tweets from @persiankiwi as this person (or persons) seemed to learn consequences of tweets as quickly as requests were being made. You should read from the last post up:

29. several arrests today after tracking thru twiter proxys – #Iranelectionabout 15 hours ago from web   

30. any proxy addss shown on twitter is possible trap – freedom twitters in Iran DO NOT follow – YOUR LOCATION IS VISIBLE – #Iranelectionabout 15 hours ago from web   

31. any proxy addss twittered is blocked almost immediately – #Iranelectionabout 15 hours ago from web   

32. sorry for delay – no ISP could be accessed for long time – are now in a different location for very short time with ++ access #Iranelectionabout 15 hours ago from web   

33. DO NOT RT any other tweeters posts unless u are 100% sure they are GENUINE – #Iranelection – cont……..about 16 hours ago from mobile web

34. RT all my posts as much as possble to help confuse censors – #Iranelection – cont………about 17 hours ago from mobile web

35. our lives are in real danger now – we are the eyes – they need to stop us – #Iranelection cont….about 17 hours ago from mobile web

36. pls everyone change your location on tweeter to IRAN inc timezone GMT+3.30 hrs – #Iranelection – cont….about 17 hours ago from mobile web

37. for all followers outside iran pls follow my next tweet – v\important – #Iranelectionabout 17 hours ago from mobile web

38. you will know them by looking at their past tweets – cont…. – #Iranelectionabout 18 hours ago from mobile web

39. i cannot name the reliable sources because we are now the main attention of censors – but .. cont…. #Iranelectionabout 18 hours ago from mobile web

40. ignore all instructions from new twitters or twitters with no history of accurate posts – cont…. #Iranelectionsabout 19 hours ago from mobile web

41. do NOT follow any instructions on twitter except from the trusted sources – cont…… #Iranelectionabout 19 hours ago from mobile web

42. IMPORTANT to all tweeters in iran – follow my next message carefuully – #Iranelectionabout 19 hours ago from mobile web

At one point @persiankiwi asked if the world outside Iran had any sense of what was going on. Little did @persiankiwi understand that at that time those posts were the posts folks were getting information from.

We are all learning how this tool can be used. And in whose hands. Clearly the tool can be crafted by and for both sides in any political endeavor. As for by-standers, go ahead and watch, read, wear green, talk to each other. But if you aren’t, as @persiankiwi says,

DO NOT RT any other tweeters posts unless u are 100% sure they are GENUINE

And that knowledge is hard to come by on Twitter.

10 thoughts on “Learning the Twitter Rules of Engagement”

  1. Heya i got to your site by mistake when i was searching bing for something off topic here but i do have say your site is really helpful, like the theme and the content on here…so thanks for me procrastinating from my previous task, lol

  2. I landed on this site while searching for other topics. I just can’t help imagine how those people use the social media site to topple down one institution. Twitter is created as a form of social media, to get in touch with people, tool that could also be an advantage to promote if you have a business. If certain posts could harm other, I guess the moderator should do something on it.

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