WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US State Department has begun sending Twitter messages to Iranians, alluding to the "historic role" social media have played in mass protests against Iran's 2009 disputed presidential polls.
The Twitter feeds began Sunday as US officials accused Iran of hypocrisy by supporting the anti-government revolt in Egypt but seeking to prevent anti-government demonstrations in Iran.
On the Twitter account, USAdarFarsi, the State Department said it "recognizes historic role of social media among Iranians We want to join in your conversations."
In another Tweet, the State Department said: "Iran has shown that the activities it praised Egyptians for it sees as illegal, illegitimate for its own people."
In a third Tweet, it said "US calls on Iran to allow people to enjoy same universal rights to peacefully assemble, demonstrate as in Cairo."
In Tehran, riot police on Monday fired tear gas and shot paintballs at protesters who turned what they said was a Tehran rally in support of Arab revolts into an anti-government demonstration, witnesses said.
International and local Iranian media were banned from freely covering the massive wave of protest sparked by the disputed re-election in June 2009 of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But Iranians overcame the reporting ban by using social-networking and image-sharing websites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr despite efforts by local officials to cut off mobile phones and the Internet.
Note that the messages from the State Department to Iran began at about the same time the supposedly "spontaneous demonstrations" began in Egypt. The "spontaneous demonstrations" in Iran began at about the same time as the State Department messages arrived in Iran.