Twitter’s cofounder Jack Dorsey last night exchanged a brief Twitter conversation with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. The politician has access to Twitter while his population do not, but if Rouhani is to be taken at his word there may be a hint of change in the air.
Dorsey asked simply of Rouhani “are citizens of Iran able to read your tweets?” This earned a reply reinforcing something that Rouhani had earlier said to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour: “As I told @camanpour, my efforts geared 2 ensure my ppl’ll comfortably b able 2 access all info globally as is their #right.” Aside from the impressive tweet parlance Rouhani demonstrated here, the critical message is that the operator of the Twitter account, presumed to be Rouhani, sees a future where his people will be able to access the wider Internet on at least a more free basis. Iran has blocked access to Twitter and Facebook and other sites, initially as part of a crackdown that began during a series of popular uprisings which challenged the government. The country has since indicated that it is trying to create its own intranet and may disconnect entirely from the greater Net, including services like email. While presumably this is a move by the secretive nation to shut its population away from external influence, in a manner something akin to China’s “great firewall,” it seems Rouhani has other plans. He also spoke to President Obama in what’s become a controversial phone call–even if it’s a historic one.
Twitter is approaching an IPO and it has been making careful moves to improve its services to customers and ad partners. Is this news the sort of move that makes the social network stand ahead of its peers?