The free social-messaging utility uniquely documented and personalized the story of hope, heroism, and horror in Iran.
The video gave substance to what seemed so far away. We saw the look in her eyes as they went lifeless. We heard the sounds of her friends and family as they begged her to hold on. And she became the personification of the struggle for democracy in a country where voices for freedom are quelled.
Neda became the voice of a movement; Twitter became the megaphone. Twitter is a free social-messaging utility. It drove people around the world to pictures, videos, sound bites, and blogs in a true reality show of life, dreams, and death. Last month's marches for freedom and the violent crackdowns were not only documented but personalized into a story of mythic tragedy.
When traditional journalists were forced to leave the country, Twitter became a window for the world to view hope, heroism, and horror. It became the assignment desk, the reporter, and the producer. And, because of this, Twitter and its creators are worthy of being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I first mentioned this idea while being interviewed on a cable news program. Many scoffed. That's understandable. But think about what Twitter has accomplished: It has empowered people to attempt to resolve a domestic showdown with international implications – and has enabled the world to stand with them. It laid the foundation to pressure the world to denounce oppression in Iran.
Twitter has been criticized as a time-waster – a way for people to inform their friends about the minutiae of their lives, 140 characters at a time. But in the past month, 140 characters were enough to shine a light on Iranian oppression and elevate Twitter to the level of change agent. Even the government of Iran has been forced to utilize the very tool they attempted to squelch to try to hold on to power.