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Few can deny that the internet, particularly since the rise of social media and social networking, is becoming an increasingly powerful tool and means of instant communication.
The extent to which this is the case has been highlighted today after it emerged that Iranian authorities slowed down access to the internet, stopping it entirely in some regions, ahead of student protests in Tehran intended to mark the 1953 killings of three students at an anti-US protest.
The officials have been concerned that the ease of communication offered by the internet could act as a vital weapon in the opposition’s armoury. Whereas once the focus would have undoubtedly been upon physical items such as the usual paraphernalia associated with a protest, now the enemy for the authorities is the internet, the power and potential of which is enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most powerful individuals in control of a nation. The Iranian authorities have also ordered journalists working for foreign media outlets not to leave their offices or justify the demonstrations with any kind of coverage. The worry for Iran now is that, by temporarily putting a leash on the power and reach of the internet, they are creating a situation by which more attention is drawn towards the plight of the opposition and more hype is created across the web, with bloggers angry at being denied access and a voice at such an important time.
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