April 19, 2009
Twitter’s been getting a lot of hype lately, but this account of its role in organizing protests against the Moldovan elections is interesting:
The elections brought a larger-than-expected victory for the incumbent Communist party. “We decided to organise a flash mob for the same day using Twitter, as well as networking sites and SMS.” With no recent history of mass protests in Moldova, “we expected at the most a couple of hundred friends, friends of friends, and colleagues”, she said. “When we went to the square, there were 20,000 people waiting there. It was unbelievable.”
The demonstrations continued into Tuesday peacefully. But later that day, with no response from the government, protesters swept police aside to storm the parliament building and the towering presidential palace opposite. Fire broke out in one wing of the parliament, and the young protesters vented their fury by wrecking computers and office furniture.
“Not only did we underestimate the power of Twitter and the internet, we also underestimated the explosive anger among young people at the government’s policies and electoral fraud,” said Morar.
This morning election officials in Moldova began a recount of votes, which was ordered by President Vladimir Voronin following the protests.