Facebook has launched a new beta version of the site in Persian, in order to further enable the flood of news that has poured out of Iran in the wake of that country's contested election last week.As of tonight,
As Twitter became the star platform for Iranians to convey breaking news from on the ground, Facebook has been quiet by comparison. Now, by releasing an edition in the official language of Iran (also colloquially called Farsi), its attempting to capture some of the revolutionary self-expression that has thus far passed it by.
Playing Catch-upAdding a Persian version is a noble effort, but it's a week too late to aid in documenting the fiercest of protests, and is unlikely to shift attention either in Tehran or abroad.
Whatever the language, Facebook pales in comparison to other social mediums currently in use for speedy transmission of events. To Iranians, Facebook is likely to be neither as familiar a publishing medium as blogs, nor relatively easy to access in the face of crackdowns (like Twitter is).
Persian Facebook might be viable for something with a longer-term vision, with groups and causes being better for cohesive political organizing than an amalgamation of hashtagged tweets. But for now, Facebook is decidedly ill-suited to helping Iranians to speak to the world.
Is Persian Necessary At All?Even if it existed prior to the protests, a Persian Facebook may not actually be so helpful in supporting Iranians during a time of political strife.
With one of the largest and most active blogospheres in the world, Iranians are not hurting for tools to express themselves politically and culturally online. They're just hurting for free access to them, which Facebook may not be able to provide considering it was blocked shortly before the election, and may even remain so.
As far as Twitter and other platforms go, the vast majority of those tweeting from within Iran are doing so in English. Adding a private, Persian-language social network to the mix isn't likely to aid those with the aim of communicating with the rest of the globe.