I’ve been noticing a lot of tweets coming across my personal stream (not just the stream monitored by iran.twazzzup.com) in the last several hours begging me to hack or jam servers in Iran.

Let me first just start out by asking you not to pass along those sorts of requests.

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Now, let me tell you why:

Me, you and your American follower list aren’t savvy enough to know the effects of your actions. Have you checked a network routing path? Do you know whether or not when you auto-reload that Iranian government page whether or not you’re also clogging up valuable bandwidth for protesters, demonstrators, and others still trying to get around the intense media blocks?

My guess is no.  I guess that because I know I haven’t, and I’ve thought to look.

Going around and creating DDOS attacks, be they crowdsourced or scriptkiddie, is something akin to an “eye for an eye” approach.”  There might be a time for some measured electronic retribution against the Iranian government.  Now’s not the time.

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Don’t Participate in the Propagation of Conspiracy Theories. This is a big one.  I know that every time @Sam1 and I get together or I visit Austin, we enjoy waxing philosophical on what may or may not be a conspiracy or covert political plot.

That’s fun (and fine) at most times.  Right now, though, seeing things like “@iranianTweeter is a Government Spy!” or “Beware of dis-information,” as a tweet only serves to devalue the service that Twitter is serving here. Give specific warnings about something you know is bad advice.  Not something that might be bad advice or an un-specific threat that could exist.

There are dozens of wide-reaching entities in this whole fiasco that would benefit from the spread of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt over Twitter as a reliable news source, and we all know that social media can sometimes be prone to spreading disinformation.

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A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve been following closely and extensively the stream of tweets (preferably through an aggregator), then consider yourself an authority on what’s going on. That way, you’re a good source on who’s trustworthy.  If you see something suspect or something that sounds too good to be true – investigate, don’t retweet instinctively.

This Is Too Important to Mess Up
It’s obvious that this is becoming a turning point for the way the world views information dissemination in crisis situations.

Twitter themselves realize the importance of their tool in this situation.  They rescheduled major downtime around this revolution.

Matthew Devries really said it best on a Friendfeed thread earlier yesterday:

It’s not really a good thing, but more a realization of the power they have. Zuckerberg could never fathomed this with his closed off service. @ev is now sitting there thinking "This is the finger I use to turn on and off the revolution of the second biggest country in the middle east, and it’s the same finger I use to scratch my ass.

You have that same power.  It only takes two keystrokes to retweet.  Think about your actions before you do.

Update: this applies to blogging, as well.  Much of Cory Doctorow’s advice today at Boing Boing is ill advised.

“Change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30.”

“Don’t blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicise their name or location on a website.”

By not publicisizing genuine sources, you’re inhibiting the flow of real information, allowing disinfo to take further root.  Changing your time zone to Tehran time does nothing to obfuscate a source’s location.

The last time I checked, Biz wasn’t giving out IP and locality info to the Iranian government.  These people are safe, and changing your timezone to Tehran time only confuses aggregators trying to find primary sources.