09 April 2010

Why isn't Kyrgyzstan trending on Twitter?

Despite a similar median age of its citizens (24.4 to 27), the unrest in Kyrgyzstan isn't even close to generating similar levels of interest on Twitter as Iran.

Some of this can be explained by the fact it has a population a tenth of the size of Iran and just 850,000 Internet users (compared to 23 million in Iran).

However, the main reason (besides the difficulty in spelling it correctly - which should never be ignored when analysing social media) is that the public in the USA isn't as interested and, in spite of all the suggestions to the contrary, the majority of those tweeting about Iran were not citizens of the country, but American users.

Despite all the media hyperbole at the time, subsequent research for the British Council revealed that just 0.03% of the Iranian population were members of Twitter at the time. A quick glance at tweets at the time quickly illustrated the fact they weren't emanating from Iran ("My Twitter photo has gone GREEN in support of the freedom revolution of #IranElection").

At least the events unfolding in Kyrgyzstan don't look set to be trivialised by lazy journalists seeking an 'interesting' angle for readers in the West.

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