A Comparative Study of Government Surveillance of Social Media and Mobile Phone Communications during Iran’s Green Movement (2009) and the UK Riots (2011)

  • Jamileh Kadivar
Keywords: Surveillance, Panopticon, Big Brother, Iran’s Green Movement, The UK Riots, Social Movement, Social Media, Mobile phone Communications, Foucault, Twitter


In many contexts, social media has been considered as a group of tools that facilitates people's access to freedom and democracy. But this view is challengeable. In this study, two different aspects of social media are examined. The first aspect examines social media’s use by protesters in two completely different contexts—Iran and the UK. The second aspect, on the other hand, investigates how the two governments, who have very different approaches to governance, exploited social media in an attempt to control the two protests. The main question addressed in this study is: “What are the differences and similarities between government surveillance of social media and mobile communications during Iran’s Green Movement (2009) and the UK riots (2011)?” The findings of this study suggest that social media and mobile phone communications were both important to protesters. Furthermore, this research illustrates that governments monitor the protesters on social and mobile media in different ways, and justify their actions by mainly saying that they do so in order to protect public order and national interests.

Author Biography

Jamileh Kadivar
Jamileh Kadivar is a freelance journalist and a former lecturer at the faculty of Social Sciences and Economics at Alzahra University in Iran. Her research focuses on the intersection between political science and social media. She has published on topics including political discourse analysis, Middle East affairs and feminist political economy.