Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Maldovan Youth Protest Online

Right now, Twitter is abuzz with discussions of #pman. In fact, #pman ranks among "Easter" and "Braves" as one of the 10 most discussed topics on Twitter. #pman is a searchable tag that protesters in Maldova coined to galvanize protests against the country's Communist government. As they ransacked the parliament building, youth were able to post live updates. Their use of Twitter has enabled global audiences to follow the situation and provided a platform for discussing Sunday's election.

By Tuesday night, the seat of government had been badly battered and scores of people had been injured. But riot police had regained control of the president’s offices and Parliament Wednesday. After hundreds of firsthand accounts flooded onto the Internet via Twitter, Internet service in Chisinau, the capital, was abruptly cut off. There was no sign that the authorities would cede to any of the protesters’ demands, and President Vladimir Voronin denounced the organizers as “fascists intoxicated with hatred.”

- excerpt from "Protests in Moldova Explode, With Help of Twitter" by Ellen Barry in The New York Times. Click here to see the full story.

This situation reflects the emergence of a global youth culture and shows how Web 2.0 tools like Twitter and Facebook can be used for grassroots activism. These protests are a breed of faster and fiercer citizen journalism. With this instantaneous feed of firsthand accounts, it becomes even more difficult for nations to create cohesive brands or communicate credible messages.

Here's BBC's story on three eyewitness accounts on the protest.

1 comment:

  1. Moldova finally made its mark. As the poorest country in Europe, it took a student protest organized by Twitter to get people looking at the small country surrounded by Romania and the Ukraine. Looking at photos of the protest, you see the police hidden behind shields that could be seen in the 1950s and fire trucks from the 1970s. This outdated country is trying to compete with the information age and failing.

    In one of the few times that the country has gained international press, the government fails to reclaim its image. While the international community should be transfixed by the government’s unwillingness to use force, all it can do is laugh at the absurd comments of the nation’s communist leader. According to Prime Minister Vladimir Voronin, the Romanian government is behind the coup d’etat. Comments such as these cause youth and citizens around the world to rally behind the protestors.

    Since Moldova is a small state known for human trafficking and poverty, the chances of that image being enhanced by the protests this past week are slim to none. Small nations rarely have the opportunity to change their image because the world rarely concentrates its attention on such nations. Therefore, the prospects of an image change in Moldova in the next few years are slim. Now, the world thinks that it is an oppressive Lenin- communist European nation full of rebellious youth. Good luck attracting investors and tourists.