Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote that the revolution will not be tweeted in response to the belief that the Green Movement in Iran did not overthrow the theocratic goverment of Iran. He is partially right. Most of the tweets were from non-Iranians supporting the folks on the ground. However he missed an important piece.
The internet as a communication platform for dissidents is alive and well! Recent events in Tunisa bare that out. For several days now there has been riots in Tunisia. As is all too common in Islamic states, dissidence is met with force. The leaders of the groups are using blogs, twitter and Facebook to coordinate their meetings, display the continued violence and get their messages out.
In typical repressive response the Tunisian govement has moved to censor all the internet. This is a common practice among govements wishing to control media – China, Iran, US etc.
Protesters have taken to the streets with signs reading “Freedom 404”. To me this is the webs signature moment. 404 errors are one of many http protocals that the web uses to communicate page status. The 404 error signifies there is no page available at that address. If a page has been deleted or removed, you get a 404 error.
For the Tunsians, the 404 represent the blocking of information, the supression of freedom of the press and the dissemiation of information. The 404 error now means something politically for them. It stands as a symbol of tyranny and authoritarianism. I find it fascinating that an Internet protocal message number can become a politcal statement. Let’s hope that 404 spreads a political message – it would be such a cool message.
Freedom 404, brothers and sisters, Freedom 404 indeed!