Web Support Pours Out For Iran Protesters

NEW YORK -- Election protests in Iran are grabbing more than news headlines.

They're capturing huge interactive interest on the Internet.

Web sites like Google and Facebook have rushed out services in Farsi, Iran's chief language.

And ordinary users are trying to set up proxy sites to help Iranians dodge government censors.

Even the file-sharing site Pirate Bay, which has had issues in he past with copyright infringement, has jumped in.

It's setting up a network aimed at helping Iranians surf the Web anonymously.

But there's considerable doubt about how much help is actually getting through.

One U.S. computer expert says Iran's telecommunications monopoly has cut back the speed of its Web connections, which would make it easier to filter out proxies or other unwanted communications.

Harvard Internet research fellow Ethan Zuckerman says the Internet outpouring has been "hugely important" in focusing outside attention and forming a sense of solidarity with the protesters.

But he says it's probably not doing much to help people in Iran mobilize.


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