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Moldova: More on Twitter's Impact on the Protests

Day 3 of the post-election protests in Moldova's capital turned out to be comparatively quiet. Mihai Moscovici wrote this on Twitter on Wednesday morning:

No crowds today. Very few protesters now in the main square in Chisinau, Moldova [...]

And here is one of Moscovici's latest tweets, posted early morning Thursday:

No protesters in the main square in Chisinau. Now all is quite and calm in Chisinau, Moldova [...]

Discussion of the role of social media in organization and coverage of the events in Chisinau, which began as the initially peaceful Monday's protests grew violent on Tuesday, has continued throughout Wednesday as well.

Evgeni Morozov posted an update to his post on “Twitter Revolution” on Foreign Policy's Net Effect:

[...] 3. It really helped that even non-technology people in the U.S. and much of Western Europe are currently head over heels in love with Twitter. It's really good that the Moldovan students didn't organize this revolution via Friendster or LiveJournal (which is still a platform for choice for many users in Eastern Europe). If they did, they would never have gotten as much attention from the rest of the world. [...]

Rootwork left this comment, noting that this observation by Morozov appeared “particularly misguided”:

[...] This perspective is an example of collapsing the strategy and the tool. More specifically: Getting attention from the rest of the world is not automatically the objective of any given social change movement.

Most social change organizers know this. There are moments when you want to focus on building awareness and/or getting media attention, but that's often not the primary focus of the campaign. In the case of the Moldovan students, it could be that what was most needed was a way to get organizers to identify and strategize with one another — in which case Twitter would have been a very poor (or at least fantastically blunt) tool.

Such perspective is possible only if you think of Twitter as one possible tool, perfect for use in some strategies and rather ineffective in others. A near-religious belief in Twitter (or any technology) as a strategy leads to a narrowing of the actual strategy — getting the world to pay attention becomes the goal, because, hey, that's what Twitter can be effective at doing!

In this case, organizers might have gotten attention from beyond Moldova with a few dozen Twitterers, but failed at their primary goal of making opposition to the regime visible to other Moldovans.

More thoughts on this from Rootworkhere.

Also, Daniel Bennett joined the Moldova Twitter discussion on Frontline Club's blog – here, and the New York Times’ The Lede posted an interview with Mihai Moscovici – here.

Moscovici posted this tweet a few hours ago, and it seems like a good wrap-up for this discussion:

Western media don't understand #pman isn't about Twitter. #pman is about anti-communist protest in Chisinau, Moldova to demand re-elections.

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