Since the Iranian election last week, people around the world have increasingly been sharing news and information on Facebook about the results and its aftermath. Much of the content created and shared has been in Persian—the native language of Iran—but people have had to navigate the site in English or other languages.
Today we're making the entire site available in a beta version of Persian, so Persian speakers inside of Iran and around the world can begin using it in their native language.
If your browser is set to Persian, you should automatically see the Persian version of Facebook. If you'd like to change your language into Persian, go here, or click on the "Settings" link in the upper-right corner of any page and then go to the "Language" tab. You then can select the language you want from the drop-down menu.
We could not have made this happen so quickly without the more than 400 Persian speakers who submitted thousands of individual translations of the site. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. If you speak Persian or any language not yet completely translated, you can help as well by using the Translations application.
Eric is a Facebook engineer working to translate the site.
- by Eric Kwan on Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 10:27pm
Since the Iranian election last week, people around the world have increasingly been sharing news and information on Facebook about the results and its aftermath. Much of the content created and shared has been in Persian—the native language of Iran—but people have had to navigate the site in English or other languages.
- by Gene Fant on Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 8:12amIn honor of Father's Day, we are republishing a column about fatherhood and friendship that originally appeared on June 2 in the Jackson Sun newspaper of Jackson, Tenn. Gene Fant teaches English at Union University and is the author of "Expectant Moments: Devotions for Expectant Couples," a devotional memoir about the birth of his twins, Ethan and Emily, who are now 11 years old.
A couple of years ago, I started a Facebook account to communicate with my students. Many of them had stopped using e-mail, and this was the only way I could catch... them in a timely manner.
After about a year, I started finding some of my own friends, from high school, former jobs and even elementary school.
It was awesome to reconnect, in some cases after 35 years, to see how much their kids look like they did the last time I saw them or to see what they're up to.
It's sort of like having access to everyone's Christmas newsletters, only I get to see them over the course of the year rather than in one simple note.
I think, however, that Facebook might be about to die. My dad "poked" me the other day to see if we could be friends.
So did my aunt, my brother's mother-in-law and a bunch of other folks from the previous generation. This means that it has expanded to two or three generations beyond the basic 16- to 22-year-old set.
Becoming Facebook friends with my dad, however, got me to thinking about being actual friends with my dad.
I am Gene Clinton Fant Jr., named after Dad. I look just like Dad. I have a degree from one of his alma maters. Our voices are eerily similar. We're awfully close, and I call him for insight and advice all the time.
"Friends," however, that's a different matter. We fought like crazy during my teen years.
He held a firm hand of discipline. He made sure that I did not only what I was told to do but also what I ought to do without being told.
He insisted that we spend time together as a family, sometimes in ways that excluded my friends or that contradicted my personal plans.
I know that he was ready to pack it all in on a few occasions and let me figure out what the real world was all about, but he constantly held me to high standards.
He admonished me and he prayed for me, sometimes out loud and lots of times in quiet when I didn't even realize that he was doing it. There's no way I would have called him my "friend" when I was about 15.
It's amazing how much coolness he developed when I was about 22. I learned that my successes on the job and in school were related to his discipline.
I found that my high standards for myself were invaluable. When I became a father myself, Dad suddenly gained extra-cool status, as I found myself echoing the words he had uttered to me.
His standards had become my standards, his wisdom my wisdom. Somehow along the way, we had become friends, not because he had bought me things or given in to my whims in an effort to be my pal, but because he had earned it through demonstrating his resolute love for me.
I always cringe when I hear a parent brag that he or she is "best friends" with a 13-year-old child. More times than not, this means that the parent has bought such friendship at a cost of all authority over the child's life.
If you don't think so, then watch what happens when a teenager's friends try to say something even remotely harsh or corrective to him or her. They are friends no more.
There are seasons to life, and the role of parent is the one that ought to take precedence over our child's most formative years. There will be a season of friendship that is earned, not purchased, down the road.
Of all the friends that I have on Facebook, there are many whom I love. There are a few whom I respect. There are none that I both love and respect quite like my dear friend, Gene C. Fant Sr.
Gene is proud to be "Jr." today, just as he is honored to be a "dad."
- by Sophia Huang on Monday, June 22, 2009 at 3:35pm
Everyone has a name, but some people are known by more than one. I am one of them. I grew up in Taiwan and all of my friends in Taiwan recognize me by my Chinese name, while the friends I've made after I moved abroad know me by my English name.
Both are part of my real identity, but until now I could only show one name in my Facebook account. This made it difficult for all of my friends to connect with me. I've even received messages from old friends asking who I was before they would approve my friend request because they didn't recognize my... name, even though the profile photo looked familiar to them.
Last week, we added the ability for you to display such alternate names on Facebook. Previously you could associate another name with your account, so friends who knew you by that name could find you in search results. Now, you can further choose to also display your alternate name so it is visible on your profile, in search results, in friend requests and on other places on the site. It also will appear in parenthesis alongside your primary name.
In addition to names in different languages, you may want to include an alternate name if you have a maiden name, a different married name or are otherwise known by more than one name.
To enter an alternate name, go to your "Account Settings" page here. Check the box for displaying your alternate name if you also want it to be shown on the site.
With this change, we hope that all of you with multiple names, in any language, will be able to connect with even more of your friends.
Sophia, who works on internationalization for Facebook, is excited to connect with more of her friends.
每個人至少都有一個名字，但是就是有些人的名字卻不止一個。很不巧，我就是其中的一個。在台灣渡過我的前半生，之後選擇浪跡四海；未來呢？還沒有人知道。因此多數台灣親朋好友、鄰家大叔大嬸、後巷裡的黑狗兄等等，識得的呢是本人的中文名號，周遊各地結識的朋友們，統一以我的英文名字稱呼我。其實，不管中文或英文名，這兩個名字還不都是我。只是到目前為止，在我的 Facebook 個人檔案上，我只能選擇叫 Sophia，或是淑慧，無奈的是，不管選擇哪個，總會有大半的朋友在 Facebook 上找不到或認不出我。一些陳年老友收到我的 Facebook 交友邀請，覺得徐娘半老的相片看起來真眼熟，可是就是想不出哪個朋友名叫 Sophia，還得想辦法客氣地旁敲側擊地找答案。
上週 Facebook 做了項人性化的改動，讓大家可以在 Facebook 上選擇同時顯示廣為人知的別名了。 其實，之前大家已經可以在帳號設定下中加入別名，不過這資料只會出現在朋友搜尋結果中，方便朋友搜尋辨認。從現在開始，除了搜尋結果之外，大家可以進一步決定是否將我們的別名也顯示在個人檔案、交友邀請、朋友推薦通知與其他地方等等，減少確認時的困惑。
希望這個功能的改良能夠協助許多像我一樣的朋友， 在 Facebook 找回更多失聯已久的朋友。
- by Ola Okelola on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 11:13amUPDATE on June 24: We've received some questions in the comments about default privacy settings for this beta. Nothing has changed with your default privacy settings. The beta is only open to people who already chose to set their profile and status privacy to "Everyone." For those people, the default for sharing from the Publisher will be the same. If you have your default privacy set to anything else—such as "Friends and Networks" or "Friends Only"—you are not part of this beta.
Today, we're launching a beta version of an improved Publisher—the... main place to add content such as photos, videos, and status updates on your home page and profile. The new Publisher has been streamlined a bit, and its most significant improvement is the new Publisher Privacy Control that gives you the opportunity to answer the question, "Who do you want to tell?" as easily as you answer the question, "What's on your mind?"
You may have some posts you want to share with a wide audience, such as whom you voted for or how great the weather is today. Other times you may have more personal updates like your new phone number or an invitation to join you at your favorite restaurant for dinner that are meant for only close or nearby friends.
If you have access to this beta version, every time you publish content into your stream you are able to control which people can access that specific piece of content. After writing a status, uploading a photo or creating other content from the Publisher, use the lock icon in the lower-right corner of the Publisher to access the drop-down menu. From there, you can then choose to make the post visible to:
- Everyone: Anyone, on or off, of Facebook can see it.
- Friends and Networks: People you have confirmed as friends and people in any school or work networks that you've joined can see it.
- Friends of Friends: Anyone who is friends with a friend of yours can see it.
- Friends: Only people you have confirmed as friends can see it.
- Custom: Choose any friend or Friend List to include or exclude from seeing that piece of content.
For example, you might be comfortable with anyone enjoying the video you took at a concert, but only want your family to see photos from your family vacation. So you can choose to share the video with "Everyone" while selecting "Custom" for the photo album and choosing your Friend List for your family.
Additionally, when you add a new friend, you'll begin to start seeing posts they have set to "Everyone" before they have confirmed you as a friend.
People who had previously set their status updates and profile privacy settings to be visible to "Everyone" are included in this beta launch, but we hope to expand this to more of you soon.
Ola, an engineer at Facebook, is publishing his thoughts to everyone.
- by Scott Marlette on Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 12:37pm
People may manage their Inboxes differently, but they all face times when they need to quickly find important messages from friends or stop unwanted messages. We're simplifying the Inbox to make it easier for you to find, read and control your Facebook messages. We've already begun testing the new interface for the Inbox, and we will be rolling it out to more of you over the coming weeks.
The new Inbox design gives you more control over organizing messages and choosing which messages you receive. You'll notice that there are now filters at the... top of your Inbox to help you identify unread messages as well as to report any spam, or unwanted messages, you may receive. This complements our ongoing efforts to keep your experience on the site uncluttered and secure.
To find specific messages within your Inbox, you can type a keyword or a friend's name in the search box in the upper-left corner of the screen. As before, you can view Updates from the Facebook Pages you are connected with by selecting the "Updates" category in the left-side navigation. These are messages sent by the businesses, public figures, musicians and other organizations you've become a fan of on Facebook. You can manage subscriptions to Updates by clicking the "Edit Subscriptions" link beneath Inbox of Updates. Over time, we plan to migrate messages from Groups and Events to Updates as well, so you have more control over the communication you receive.
Scott, a product manager, has no unread messages thanks to the new Inbox.
- by Kari Lee on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 7:26pm
Today, we're beginning to test new versions of Facebook Search with a small group — just a fraction of a percent of the people on Facebook. Those of you in the test group will be able to find content from the people, organizations and public figures that matter to you as soon as they share it on Facebook. Testing potential features is an important part of our product development process. These tests tell us if new features benefit people in the way we think they will, what we might do to make them even better, and in some instances, when we... need to go back to the drawing board.
Those of you in the test group will see new layouts for search results that will continue to include people's profiles, Facebook Pages, groups and applications, and some entirely new Search features. With the test, you will be able to search your News Feed for the most recent status updates, photos, links, videos and notes being shared by your friends and the Facebook Pages of which you're a fan. You will also be able to search for status updates, posted links and notes in Search from people who have chosen to make their profile and content available to everyone. As always, you can control what content you're sharing by editing your privacy settings here.
The people around us are a powerful source for finding information about new and interesting information — from the latest on last night's episode of "The Office" and suggestions on what to do for your next vacation to current events.
I'm interested in the latest updates on the aftermath of the Iranian election. By entering the term "Iran" in the "Search" field in the upper-right corner of any page on Facebook, I will see up-to-the-minute results from my friends and the Facebook Pages of which I'm a fan, not to mention people who have chosen to make their profile and content available to everyone. I'm able to discover what blogs and news sources my friends are following, what my friends are saying about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and how people in general are reacting to the election results.
In the coming weeks, as we learn more from the different test versions of Search, we'll keep making improvements and may expand the test to more people.
Kari, an engineer, is ready, set, start your Facebook Search engines.
- by Blaise DiPersia on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 12:11pmUPDATE on Saturday, June 13: Username selection is now live at http://www.facebook.com/username/. Remember, choosing a username is optional and will give you a distinct Web address for your profile. It will not change the name that appears on your profile, in search or elsewhere on the site.
From the beginning of Facebook, people have used their real names to share and connect with the people they know. This authenticity helps to create a trusted environment because you know the identity of the people and things on Facebook. The one place,... though, where your identity wasn't reflected was in the Web address for your profile or the Facebook Pages you administer. The URL was just a randomly assigned number like "id=592952074." That soon will change.
We're planning to offer Facebook usernames to make it easier for people to find and connect with you. When your friends, family members or co-workers visit your profile or Pages on Facebook, they will be able to enter your username as part of the URL in their browser. This way people will have an easy-to-remember way to find you. We expect to offer even more ways to use your Facebook username in the future.
Your new Facebook URL is like your personal destination, or home, on the Web. People can enter a Facebook username as a search term on Facebook or a popular search engine like Google, for example, which will make it much easier for people to find friends with common names. Your username will have the same privacy setting as your profile name in Search, and you can always edit your search privacy settings here.
Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13, you'll be able to choose a username on a first-come, first-serve basis for your profile and the Facebook Pages that you administer by visiting www.facebook.com/username/. You'll also see a notice on your home page with instructions for obtaining your username at that time.
Facebook usernames will be available in basic text forms, and you can only choose a single username for your profile and for each of the Pages that you administer. Your username must be at least five characters in length and only include alphanumeric characters (A-Z, 0-9), or a period or full stop ("."). While usernames are currently available only for Romanized text, we're looking at how we might support non-Romanized characters in the future.
Think carefully about the username you choose. Once it's been selected, you won't be able to change or transfer it. If you signed up for a Facebook Page after May 31 or a user profile after today at 3 p.m. EDT, you may not be able to sign up for a username immediately because of steps we've taken to prevent abuse or "squatting" on names.
Be sure to check out this FAQ for answers to common questions, and if you're an administrator of Facebook Pages, get more details here. If you want to ensure you keep the rights for a trademark or other protected name, contact us here.
Blaise, a designer at Facebook, is letterpressing his new business cards.
- Topics: Username
- by Philip Fung on Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 6:44pm
Don't be the last to know about what's happening with your friends, family or co-workers just because you're away from your computer. You now can subscribe to receive text messages of your friends' status updates directly from their profiles.
Click on the "Subscribe via SMS" link below your friends' profile pictures to get their latest news while you are mobile. You can also comment on your friends' status updates directly from your phone by replying to the text messages you receive. You can even subscribe to mobile updates from the Facebook... Pages of your favorite celebrities, public figures, businesses and organizations.
If you already have Facebook Mobile activated for your phone or device, then you will begin receiving the text message updates after confirming your subscription. If you haven't yet set up Facebook Mobile, you will be taken through a series of steps to activate it before receiving text messages.
While Facebook does not charge for this service, your mobile-service provider's standard text messaging rates will apply so be sure to check with your provider. You can stop receiving text message status updates from your friends and connections at any time. Unsubscribe in one of three ways: reply directly from your mobile phone with "unsubscribe," return to a friend's profile and click the "Unsubscribe from SMS Updates" link or edit your mobile texts settings from the Mobile settings page.
If you're not able to sign-up yet, keep checking back. We're working to expand this to more and more people around the world. As of now, we're able to offer this service in 18 countries, where we have existing relationships with mobile service providers, like the U.S., U.K., South Africa, Indonesia and New Zealand.
We're constantly working to add new mobile features for Facebook. Learn more about all of the mobile options on Facebook, from device-specific applications to our m.facebook.com mobile site, on our Facebook Mobile page.
Phil, an engineer, loves getting status updates texted to his phone in real-time.
- by Teddy Underwood on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 5:53pm
We launched our new Payments Terms today to govern the purchases you make on Facebook, following a three-day period for notice and comment. We'd like to thank all of you who participated with comments last week.
We read through all of your feedback, and the response to the new terms was overwhelmingly positive. In this case, the Payments Terms did not require a vote because of the limited number of concerns raised in comments.
A few common questions were raised during the commenting period, and we want to address them so people understand the new... Payments Terms:
Does this mean Facebook is no longer free?
Absolutely not. Facebook is a free service, and we have no plans to change that.
Payments are used on the site for purchasing credits to give gifts from the Facebook Gift Shop and for advertisers who buy ads through our online system.
Why does Facebook need to store my credit card information and transactional data?
We store this data in order to make the purchasing of credits or advertising more convenient for you. We also keep this data for reference purposes in case there is an issue with your transaction and we need to retrieve that data to address the issue.
Why would Facebook need to pull my credit report?
That section of the Payments Terms is intended to apply to advertisers and developers, not to users in general.
The entire Payments Terms are available here in five different languages, and you can read the Explanation Documents we have posted to learn even more about why we included certain terms. Also, please become a fan of the Facebook Site Governance Page to receive ongoing updates on your home page about future proposed changes to our site governance documents.
Teddy, an associate in Facebook's legal department, looks forward to spending credits on gifts for his friends.
- by Paul McDonald on Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 3:14pm
When we added regional networks to the site back in 2005, they provided a useful way for people to find and connect with the people around them. We've grown substantially since then, and today these networks too often represent large geographical areas—sometimes entire countries—that no longer accurately reflect people's real-world connections.
To make the site easier to understand, we're taking the first step towards removing these regional networks, which you may have joined for your city, region or country. When this process is finished,... regional networks will no longer appear in your privacy settings. We think this will make the privacy options and controls we offer even clearer. You'll still be able to share content with larger groups of people by choosing the new "Everyone" option or by using a school or work network.
Already, we've started removing regional networks as filters in News Feed. We found that few people were using the regional network filters, choosing filters for their schools, workplaces and Friend Lists instead to surface interesting and relevant information.
Over the next few weeks, we'll be removing other uses for regional networks. If you've ever created a group or event and set it so that only members of a certain regional network could join, that group or event will now become open to everyone. If you're a group or event administrator, we'll notify you through a message at the top of the group or event page so you can change the access level if you want.
For the 50 percent or so of people who have joined regional networks, we'll eventually be moving information about those networks to your profile so that you can still tell people where you live. If your regional network is a city, for example, it will be listed in the "Current City" field. If it's a region or country, it will be listed in a new "Current Region" field. This information will continue to appear in search results so that it's just as easy as before to find the people you know.
We're glad that so many of you around the world have made Facebook a part of your lives, and we hope this change improves your experience on the site.
Paul McDonald, an engineer, is saying goodbye to the Silicon Valley network.
- by Elizabeth Linder on Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 6:00pmThe following is part of our series on different ways you can use Facebook to connect with public figures and organizations around the world. Read the previous blog post in this series here.
Summer Solstice has just passed, and around this time I take my annual stock of summertime plays, operas and ballets offered in my area and in places I hope to visit in the coming months. I always collect an endless wish list of events that are tailored to relaxing summer afternoons and long, sky-lit evenings.
...Yet despite my best efforts to keep track of seasonal offerings, the litany of websites I visit and glossy brochures I gather can be overwhelming. It's not until September that I come across that brochure for a not-to-be-missed production of "Much Ado About Nothing" in the park, only to realize that the final bow had been taken in July and the stage disassembled just before Labor Day.
This year, I'm relying less on picking up pamphlets at box offices, and more on notices direct from fine arts companies that appear in my News Feed on Facebook. Many savvy councils for the arts have Facebook Pages, where I can read reviews, find discounted tickets and get notifications about upcoming events. Here are but a few of my favorites:
Behind the Scenes at the Opera
The Royal Opera House recently posted a note about this summer's BP Big Screens, showing operas in parks and public squares around the United Kingdom — from Trafalgar Square in London to Millennium Square in Bristol.
Across the pond in Iowa, the Des Moines Metro Opera, in preparation for "The Barber of Seville", posted a call for ushers on opening weekend at the end of June. If you're an opera aficionado, you can also watch a behind-the-scenes video on the company's page, showing the assembly of the set evoking Rossini's Italy.
Special Offers to the Ballet
The San Francisco Ballet is using its Facebook Page to notify fans that the company will be on tour in China this summer. Even while the company is out of town, you can still receive updates about ample local opportunities to attend student performances that showcase the company's rising talents.
Check out offers on special ticket prices for fans of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City and be sure to leave feedback on recent performances you've attended.
Meanwhile, the Australian Ballet reminds you that June is Nutcracker Season in Sydney — the perfect excuse to lose yourselves in swirling snow and colorful marzipan.
You can also RSVP for your favorite performances directly from the theater company's Facebook Page to let your friends know that you're planning to attend. So if you're booking tickets for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Richmond, Va., you can share your plans with your friends. They may even be willing to help gather the perfect summertime picnic to enjoy under the stars.
Elizabeth, an associate on Facebook's Communications team, can't wait for the arts to come knocking on her News Feed this summer.
- by Kevin Arata on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 11:22amLieutenant Colonel (LTC) Kevin Arata is the Director of the Online and Social Media Division of the U.S. Army. Since January 2009, he's worked on developing different social media platforms as methods of communication for the Army. We've asked him to share some of the ways that soldiers are using Facebook to connect with each other and their families.
Some people are shocked when they see a Facebook status update or message coming from a deployed soldier. At the U.S. Army, we see it as another positive move that allows our soldiers to feel... connected to friends and family at home, even when they're half a world away. Allowing our audience — including our soldiers — to connect and communicate through social networking is still considered risky business by some, and we do face unique challenges. The risks to operations security felt by some, or the fears that our soldiers will post "unbecoming" information, are outweighed by increased communication and sharing.
Soldiers: Past, Present and Future
In this era of persistent conflict and frequent deployments, service members are under constant stress due to the demands of the military lifestyle on both their psychological and physical well being. Facebook has made it easier to stay in touch with loved ones back home. Two months after we launched the official U.S. Army Page on Facebook, it has become a meeting ground for soldiers, their spouses and families to share insights, support and encouragement. In one of many examples, a proud mother of a soldier from Virginia wrote on our Wall about her regular chats on Facebook with her son:
There's no better way to get ready for joining the Army than to hear advice directly from soldiers who've lived it. Through our Page, recruits are able to ask questions of other current and past soldiers and gather many different perspectives much more quickly than through phone conversations or e-mails:
Old friends from previous assignments are also able to stay in touch, or even reconnect, through Facebook. In fact, just a few weeks ago my boss, Colonel Jim Miller, told me he recently linked up with three of his Desert Storm buddies on Facebook after nearly 10 years. He found out they were living within miles of him in Washington, D.C., and was able to get together for a reunion dinner.
"Brats" — the term commonly associated with those who grow up in the military — often face the challenge of being separated from friends as their families move to different military bases. When I was growing up, once you left a group of friends, you were relegated to keeping in touch by writing letters or racking-up long-distance phone bills. Often times, as those friends were moving too, contact was lost and so was the friendship. Now, military children can keep in touch much easier with their friends. My kids, having spent all of their lives moving from place to place, use Facebook to connect with friends from my previous duty assignments.
Army Senior Leaders
Often people assume social networking sites are a place only for young people, but our senior Army leaders understand it's a great place for them to connect with both their older peers and the young troopers who are the backbone of the U.S. Army. An increasing number of Army senior leaders now have Facebook Pages, including General Ray Odierno, where you can stay updated on their daily activities.
The Army is embracing a new way to communicate — one that increasingly involves connecting over a social networking site as much as it means communicating about the Army through an evening news broadcast. Along with our main Army Page, other units and installations are reaching out to establish a dialogue through more than 40 other official Army unit and installation Facebook pages. You can find a lineup of all the official social media platforms for the Army here.
Facebook captures the power of relationships in a way we've only begun to explore. Whether you're a general officer or a soldier deployed to Iraq who gets a glimpse of home through a Wall post or a photo, it's a powerful medium for our community of more than 1.1 million soldiers and their spouses, family members and children.
Lieutenant Colonel Arata hopes you'll join the conversation at the U.S. Army's Facebook Page.
- by Navid Mansourian on Friday, June 19, 2009 at 4:18pmIn light of the recent events in Iran, we want to share a story from an Iranian-American colleague about his experiences using Facebook and his perspective on how much has changed in the past decade.
I woke up Saturday morning to a surge of activity in my News Feed about the events unfolding in Iran. I had heard that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been re-elected, but I had no idea how the people of Iran were reacting to the outcome.
...I soon realized the enormity of what was happening, and how dramatically the flow of information had changed in Iran, my country of ancestry. Through a constant stream of videos, photos, status updates and notes from my friends in Iran and around the world, I soon learned of the reaction to the election news. Thousands of Iranians were taking to the streets in demonstrations all over the country, and the people were disputing the results and demanding a new vote.
Four days later, I was marching with nearly 150 students and protesters at Stanford University in a protest that I learned about through my friends on Facebook. It was just one of the many ways that people around the world were showing solidarity and staying connected with the events in Iran, despite reports of a crackdown on media and Internet blocks.
I soon saw requests from Iranians on Facebook for us to share our pictures from these demonstrations worldwide. While facing great danger in their own country for protesting, Iranians wanted to see that they weren't alone and that the story of their struggle was reaching people everywhere.
This wasn't always the case. Almost 10 years ago, as an American college student of Iranian descent, I struggled to spread the message of my student counterparts in Iran. In July of 1999, student-led protests erupted for six days in response to the government closure of a reformist newspaper. They ended in violent arrests and even loss of life.
Like today, there were reports of information being restricted from coming in or out of Iran. Back then, even in countries with freedom of speech and press, information didn't spread without access to major media outlets. My friends went so far as to chase down a television crew to raise awareness about what was happening.
Those communication barriers are breaking down now, with the growth of the Internet and all of the new tools for creating content and instantly spreading information. As soon as my Iranian friends share an update about what's happening in their country, their friends are amplifying their voice by sharing it outside of the country to their friends, who then can spread it even further.
In one instance, a friend who had received updates from her family members still living in Iran captured their first-hand account in a Facebook Note. It expressed the range of emotions the family felt about the violent crackdown in that country -- fear, animosity and a desire for the truth to be told.
People are even re-posting first-aid instructions on Facebook, giving Iranians access to this basic information in Persian. The hard evidence of the government reaction is everywhere with status updates and photos documenting the Iranian struggle.
I can't help but think of how events may have unfolded differently if we had access to tools like Facebook back in 1999. I'm proud to be a part of a company that is enabling people to make their voice heard, but I am even prouder of the courage of all of the people in Iran overcoming danger to share their experiences and stand up for what they believe.
Navid works on the Information Technology team at Facebook and hopes for freedom in Iran.
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