15 June 2009

HOW TO: Track Iran Election with Twitter and Social Media

15 06 2009 - On June 12th, Iran held its presidential elections between incumbent Ahmadinejad and rival Mousavi. The result, a landslide for Ahmadinejad, has led to violent riots across Iran, charges of voting fraud, and protests worldwide.

image How can you best keep up with what’s happening in real-time, and what web tools can help us make sense of the information available?

This guide breaks down the best new media sources for real-time information, photos, and videos of the Iran situation, as well as ways to organize and share it with others.

1. Track Iran-related hashtags and keywords on Twitter

Iran Twitter ImageTwitter is, far and away, the best social media tool for second-by-second information on what’s happening in Iran. People on-the-ground and across the globe are chatting about every breaking update, every news item, and every story they find. However, all this chatter can be overwhelming – here are some tips to help organize the noise:

Know your hashtags: The top hashtags and keywords being used by people talking about the Iran situation are #IranElection, Ahmadinejad, Mousavi, and Tehran. Track these keywords first.

Twitter Search: You can go to the source and search Twitter for keywords.

Monitter: One of our favorite tools, Monitter goes a step beyond Twitter search and allows you to watch the Twitter conversation around keywords in real-time. Create multiple columns or even embed them with a widget. This makes it much easier to consume all the information at once.

Please note that while Twitter is the fastest source of breaking news, it’s also sometimes a source of misinformation, and has a poor signal-to-noise ratio.

2. YouTube is your ally

Everybody’s favorite social video site YouTube has been a central distribution medium for the Iran riots. Iranians have been posting videos nonstop of what’s happening on the ground. This really is the best way to see what’s happening without any filters.

Now, how to find the videos? We’ve picked out key YouTube accounts and search terms to track for the latest videos out of Iran:

- Iran Riots

- Associated Press YouTube Channel

- Iran Protests (sorted by newest videos)

- Irandoost09’s channel

- Iran Election 2009 (sorted by newest videos)

3. Blogs moving faster than the news

While most news sources are now picking up on the Iran situation, the blogosphere has been far quicker with news and multimedia from Iran. Thus, your best bet for organizing all of this blog chatter is via Google Blog Search. Compliment this with Google News and you’ll have a fuller picture of the situation on the ground. Google’s algorithms have already pushed Iran election stories to the top of the pile, but you can dig deeper with specific searches for the Iran Riots, Ahmadinejad and Mousavi.

Extra Note: One blog stands out for its Iran coverage: Revolutionary Road has been bringing constant updates on the Iran Riots from the front lines. We rely on citizens like these to get us news from the ground.

4. Flickr images really tell the story

Iran Riots

Image Credit: TheStyx via Flickr

The social media photo site Flickr is brimming with some eye-popping and gut-wrenching imagery from the ground. Beatings, protests, military photos from the election…it’s all there, in full color.

Once again, search terms like Iran Elections and Iran Riots 2009 will help you pinpoint the most relevant images.

5. Final notes

Social media comes fast, and because of that, the information can be overwhelming. Use filters and tools to help you understand what’s happening in real-time. If you’re looking for background on the situation, get yourself up-to-speed using Wikipedia(Iranian presidential elections 2009 and 2009 Iranian election protests are being constantly updated).

Finally, if you want to help bring awareness to the situation, then share! Share the videos you find via Twitter, blog about the situation, email your friends: everybody can play a part in this new media ecosystem.


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