Once again an international crisis is defining both the power and the limits of social media. Mashable documented the sheer volume of Iran related activity within social media. Google noted that Youtube appeared to be blocked within Iran but dramatic videos were streaming in with graphic content and that 'we are doing our best to leave as many of them up as we can'. The Facebook page of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi continued to be updated. On Twitter #Iranelection seemed to supplant Ashton Kutcher while a Tehran street flyer describing mistreatment of students made it to Twitpic. The defining social media moment came when the US State Department asked Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance until 1:30AM Tehran time. Twitter was humbled by the request although Hilary Clinton confessed 'I wouldn't know a Twitter from a tweeter, but apparently, it is very important'.
Some of the social media support was more than emotional. The blog Creative Capital identified a video (State Dept funded) that explained how to circumvent internet proxies used by the Iranian government. The Danger Room described coordinated Denial of Service attacks against Iranian servers. The search engine Yauba and its anonymity proxy filter was identified by Panda as a way to access blocked services. Jonathan Zittrain pointed out that the same distributed architecture that made Twitter more popular than just Twitter.com also made it very difficult for governments to censor.
Tech President was one of the blogs taking a more conservative assessment of social media's chances against troops in the streets and of the danger of choosing sides 'based on Tweets'. Cooler heads reminded everyone that social media was not really doing the heavy lifting. Business Week pointed out that there were less than 9,000 Twitter profiles from Iran, a number too small to bypass the government filters and flood the world with updates. As usual, followers of social media were left to try and separate hype from a rapidly changing reality.