The Internet Underground Captures The Turmoil In Tehran

Even as the Iranian government clamps down on media access and makes it difficult to access Web sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the Internet underground continues to transmit photos, videos and blog posts about the ongoing political drama surrounding the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Several sites are offering information on what is happening on the ground in Iran and other countries, piecing together and triangulating data to create almost real-time snapshots. Of course, on the wild Web it's not easy to verify the authenticity of the information. Many of the sites and much of the chatter on the Internet that is attracting attention is questioning the legitimacy of the outcome of the Iranian election. With that background in mind, we have assembled and linked to some of recent video and images covering the aftermath of the election.

Flickr has nearly 17,000 photos tagged "Iran protests" from all over the world. It provides evidence of how the Iran election is taking on a life of its own far beyond Iranian borders. Tehranlive.org is providing updates on the situation in Iran daily with photos.

(CBS)

Photo: Hamed Saber via Flickr

Facebook, which has more than 200 million users, is also playing a major role in the Iranian elections. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the more moderate presidential candidate who is contesting the election results, has more than 50,000 fans on Facebook. Ahmadinejad has a few fan sites on Facebook, but it turns out that most of them are fans who detest the Iranian president.

(CBS)

YouTube has more than 4,000 videos tagged "Iran protests" ranging from clones of broadcasts from networks, such as the BBC, CBS News, CNN, NBC and ABC News, to people around the world with their mobile phones and handycams.

YouTube video of person shot during the protests in Tehran

YouTube video of protesters burning a flag with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad image

YouTube video of doctors and nurses protesting at a major hospital in Tehran

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, along with other broadcast journalists, has been covering the unrest in Iran, providing stunning images and commentary under difficult circumstances. As of today, Palmer and other foreign journalists have been confined to their hotel rooms by the Iranian government, which makes the reporting from so-called citizen journalists even more essential to understanding what is occurring in Iran.


Watch CBS Videos Online

CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer's report from Tehran on June 15

Of course, the Twittersphere is buzzing, with thousands of tweets flowing every hour. In fact, the U.S. government reportedly asked Twitter to hold off on a planned service outage for maintenance purposes so that Iranians could communicate with the outside world.

(CBS)

Twitter users are tagging their tweets #IranElection, making it easy to find the stream of comments and links

While the Iranian government has apparently blocked access to the Internet or specific sites, savvy computer users know how to get around the censorship. Some Twitter users and bloggers are changing their settings to make it appear they are located in Tehran as a way to overload Iranian censors, who look at what tweets are from Iranians to deny access, with too many accounts to survey.

"We knew the election was a big deal but no one predicted what would happen," said Kelly Golnoush Niknejad, founder and editor-in-chief of Tehran Bureau, a new site developed to cover the Iran election. Tehran Bureau is based in the U.S., but because of communications technology and the widespread Iranian diaspora, it's possible to provide good coverage of events even at a distance. Niknejad said that people are traveling to and from the country, and have a network of friends and neighbors in country. "The Internet revolution is stronger and bigger than government," Niknejad said. "The younger generation especially is tech savvy, and the government encouraged them to study engineering and hack source code. It's a double-edged sword."

(CBS)

Iran and other governments are learning that they can no longer count on predictable outcomes or easily tamp down dissent in the age of the Internet. With thousands of protesters continuing to gather in Tehran, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may have taken notice of the tweets and citizen videos in calling for national unity.

Daniel Farber is editor-in-chief of CBSNews.com.

  • Dan Farber On Twitter»

    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.