During a press briefing, Gates said such technological advancements represent "one of the more, maybe more significant developments in the last 20 years or so" because they puts "communications technology in the hands of average citizens around the world."
He said new technology, including the Internet, cell phones and social networking sites, have made it "extremely difficult" for authoritarian governments to control information.
Gates said the technologies have been a "huge strategic asset for the United Stations," adding that "it's a huge win for freedom around the world because this monopoly of information is no longer in the hands of the government."
In the case of Iran, he joked that the country's leaders probably did not consider Twitter when instituting a communications lock down.
"If you can't text, then you Twitter," Gates said. "And, you know, my guess is in some of these countries that -- that the leadership is kind of like me. They don't have a clue what it's about."
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