Reilly also cautions against reading into Twitter as a populist tool. After all, couldn't Twitter just as easily be co-opted by the forces of the state? "Even if Twitter's role in the Iranian protest movement proves to have been as robust as some contend," Reilly writes:
[T]hat won't mean that, as a technology, it's possessed of some sort of inherent, neo-Hegelian, collective-consciousness-manifesting benevolence. Just think, for example, how queasily handy Twitter would have been when the Hutus whipped up paranoid resentment of the Tutsis prior to the Rwandan genocide — or how similarly useful it could be for tech-savvy anti-Semites looking to organize a pogrom.
Parsing the meaning of another 'Twitter Revolution'
This last idea is not without precedent. Writing on The New Republic's blog, Jason Zengerle last week pointed to an On the Media interview with Ethan Zuckerman, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In the interview, Zuckerman discusses the "Twitter Revolution" in Moldova – several days of postelection protest purportedly spurred on by the Twittering classes – but spends more time questioning Twitter's ultimate efficacy.