I talked about Twitter’s influence and response to the Iranian uprising compared to Google’s in a post a few days ago here and here. Google had been removing YouTube videos of the sometimes violent demonstrations because they “contained violence,” which violated their terms of service.
Google has now reversed itself, recognizing the social and political importance of videos about the Iranian protests that have been posted to YouTube. Iranians and their supporters had been petitioning Google to change its front page logo for a day to show support for the protests. Instead, Google launched a Farsi to English translator that allows people all over the world to translate Farsi bloggers, tweets and emails. Google did not want to insert itself into the conflict, but it did want to help out:
We feel that launching Persian is particularly important now, given ongoing events in Iran. Like YouTube and other services, Google Translate is one more tool that Persian speakers can use to communicate directly to the world, and vice versa — increasing everyone’s access to information.
As with all machine translation, it’s not perfect yet. And we’re launching this service quickly, so it may perform slowly at times. We’ll keep a close watch and if it breaks, we’ll restore service as quickly as we can.
Facebook also realized how its service was being used to help spread information and quickly translated its service into Farsi as well:
Since the Iranian election last week, people around the world have increasingly been sharing news and information on Facebook about the results and its aftermath. Much of the content created and shared has been in Persian—the native language of Iran—but people have had to navigate the site in English or other languages.
Today we’re making the entire site available in a beta version of Persian, so Persian speakers inside of Iran and around the world can begin using it in their native language.
Its clear that Twitter, Google and Facebook all recognize the important role they are playing in the Iranian uprising. All three have been amazing tools to get information from inside Iran to the outside world.
I’ll leave you with a blog post (translated by google translator) by an Iranian my age who is ready to protest tomorrow, even in the face of the Supreme Leader’s declaration that protesters will be punished tomorrow. He basically threatened to allow the army and the Basij to violently suppress the uprising. Many think that tomorrow’s protests will be put down, a la Tienanmen Square.
“I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…”
Hopefully she will be able to do all of these things tomorrow night too. I wish all of the protestors good luck and hope to see more posts tomorrow.