Skip to Content

New Report: Mapping Iran’s Online Public

18 August, 2008
By Allison Orr

This new report, Mapping Iran’s Online Public: Politics and Culture in the Persian Blogosphere, by John Kelley and Bruce Etling, is one of a series of studies from the Internet and Democracy project at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.  It is a case study using social network mapping of the Iranian blogosphere to analyse the possible impact on political and democratic processes.

The research indicates that Iranian bloggers represent a wide range of opinions from religious conservatives as well as reform-minded democrats, with about 60,000 blogs routinely updated featuring a rich variety of opinions and mix of bloggers.  This is contrary to conventional wisdom that the Persian blogosphere consists mainly of young democrats critical of the regime.

In the repressive media environment of Iran, the peer-to-peer structure of the Internet is more able to resist state control than other forms of media.  The research found that blocking of blogs by the government is less pervasive than had been assumed and that blogs may represent the most open public communications platform for political discourse.

In related news, according to the Citizen Media Law Project, Iran is on the verge of making some kinds of blogging punishable as capital crimes.  Under a new bill yet to be approved by the parliament, those convicted of "establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy" would be eligible to receive the death penalty.

More Articles