Facebook helps spread Iranian news

June 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Bay Area-based social networking site is finding ways to circumvent Iran's attempt to restrict news from getting out. Two local Facebook employees are making it happen.

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Niloofar Nafici and Navid Mansourian spend hours on Facebook. It's not just because they are Facebook employees, but also because they're using the social networking site to keep close tabs on friends and family in Iran.

Ever since Iran's presidential election, protests and outrage have swept the country. As voters demand a recount, the violence escalates.

"I've been trying to get messages out from family that I have within Iran. I've been trying to get information out for them, posting videos, posting notes they have on what's going on," says Nafici.

Since foreign media access is restricted, blogs and other Web sites have become the quickest way to circulate information.

"What's really amazing is that this has become a tremendous outlet for their voice, and not just an outlet, but has the ability to amplify and spread that information across many geographic locations," says Mansourian.

On Tuesday, one of Nafici's friends in Southern California found out about plain-clothed militia attacking students. Now Nafici will post that on her Facebook page.

"Even though I can't be on the streets with them chanting and protesting, I will be beside them," says Nafici.

Hundreds of Bay Area Iranians are doing the same. A rally held in Palo Alto is now on Facebook. It's video those in Iran specifically requested so they could see the faces of those supporting them from so far away.

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