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The Tweets that shook the world

The disputed election in Iran and resulting protests have illustrated the problem repressive regimes have in the 21st century: their grip on the flow of information is loosening, and there's nothing they can do about it.

Governments in some countries have had a monopoly on that information flow during times of crisis. Whether it's broadcasting a one-sided account over state-run television or radio, or jamming certain Internet sites for its citizens, these regimes have been able to keep a lid on communication.

That's all changing now.

Technology is blowing the lid off containment.

During the Iranian protests, demonstrators used social-networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and video sites like YouTube to show what was happening, talk to each other, and organize themselves. The proverbial public square isn't a physical location anymore. It's a technology, and through short text messages on services like Twitter, people of like minds can communicate with each other without ever leaving their own kitchen.

Who would have thought a bunch of Blackberries and iPhones would do more to spread democracy in the Middle East than six years of war?

The Soviet Union crumbled. North Korea is falling apart. Iran is in crisis. The days are numbered for failed states and leaders who don't listen to their people. And that's something we should all tweet about.