Twitter Revolution

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.


One of the things I’m known to natter on about are the potentials for confluences of social science research, the internet, and do-gooder activists to impose more transparency on state and corporate dealings.

Boing-Boing has a neat article on the winner of the Sunlight Foundation’s mashup contest, a little something calledUnfluence. This gets me all excited because it’s a really simple principle that brings together all these things and makes use of existing information to present it in a easy to grasp format. It’s kinda of like a new They Rule but with campaign finance instead of corporate.

I’ve been saying for a while that it’s not (always) the information you don’t have access to that screws you, but also the stuff that’s dumped out there in such great volume most people can’t be bothered to look at it. Using social networking these two people have pulled together bits of information that most politicians would rather you don’t assemble since you can get an idea of not just the people in their influence networks but exactly how much financial influence they hold over a given politician.

Using technology for informational freedom allows for near-instant and widespread information dispersal and is one of our best weapons.


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