Reliable Security Information

Iran in Twitter Turmoil

Events in Tehran and Washington are clearly moving faster than White House policy. Iran's Supreme Leader declared the election valid and ordered demonstrations to end. The next day protests continued and violence escalated. Much of the global pushback against the regime appears to be driven by what is often called Web 2.0, social networking tools like Twitter, You-Tube, Flickr, and Facebook. Heritage Scholars have written on the national security implications of these technologies before and discussed how they are impacting events in Iran. In "The Iranian Elections and Public Diplomacy 2.0: A Tale of Untapped Potential," Heritage's Helle Dale wrote that while the Obama administration has been quick to adopt these new technologies during the campaign on the White House Web site, "if the political will is not there to project a positive message in defense of political freedom and values that the United States has promoted for decades, it will matter little how effectively this new media is used."

Beyond today's headlines the world of Web 2.0 has significant implications for US national security. These are discussed in "Social Networking and National Security: How to Harness Web 2.0 to Protect the Country." The report concludes fundamental reforms will be required for conducting national security in a world driven by global listening. Washington cannot fully adopt and exploit social networking systems without profoundly changing the process of governance. First, the government must understand and develop the means to interact in the new world in which it lives. The Administration should: (1) Restructure the government's means for conducting strategic communications; (2) Create human capital programs to prepare national security professionals and decision makers with new skills, knowledge, and attributes; and (3) Direct national security agencies to establish research and development programs focused on threats and competitive advantages of social networking tools.

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