Not much for social networks? The State Department is.

Part of my job with ExactTarget 3sixty involves just trying to stay up-to-date with the world of social networking.  I mean, its hard work, but somebody's got to do it, right?  So I spend some time on Twitter on a normal basis.

I wasn't a Twitter-lover from day one, it definitely had to grow on me.  So I completely understand - not everybody "gets" Twitter, or Facebook, or social networking in general.  But nobody can possibly ignore the power that it is playing in the news right now.

Dominating the news are stories regarding the election in Iran.  I am sure you have seen them, they are on local news, nightly world news, the news channels....you get the idea.

But now, there is a whole new place to share stories, information, and protests that wasn't around 5 years ago - Twitter.  If you are on Twitter, and haven't been following this, you should check out #iranelection.  In just the 2 minutes that I have been typing, there are 387 new tweets - pretty amazing.

So maybe you aren't on Twitter, and you still don't see the phenomenon.  But our State Department does.  Just out of MSNBC.com comes this story:

"With traditional reporting silenced and e-mail and many Web sites shut down by the government, much of the information from Tehran was coming through social media Internet services like Twitter.com and Facebook.com, which can be accessed through mobile devices and cell phone networks.

Twitter postponed a scheduled blackout for maintenance Tuesday so as not to silence the protesters after the U.S. State Department lobbied it to keep its service running during the unrest, a State Department official said. The official said the United States wanted to highlight “Twitter’s role as an important means of communication — not with us — but horizontally in Iran.” (Read the whole story here.)

No matter what you believe, or what you think the United States position should be, there is no denying the power that statement (and the whole #iranelection stream, in general) gives to social networks.  Twitter (and Facebook, for that matter) is actually being considered a main device for people to voice their opinions, spread their views, and get word to others.

It's not just for kids - it's for everybody.  Even the State Department.

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