Originally posted February 2, 2008.
These days you don’t have to be a Silicon Valley Social Media Expert to wake up every morning with an urge to update your status on Facebook or follow the latest Tweets on your startup of choice. But what happens if you actually are a Social Media devotee who lives in Iran, a county in which most online communities are forbidden and offline community events (unless religiously focused) are strongly discouraged?
As an Iranian Social Media professional I was particularly curious about this question—knowing that despite government restrictions, Iran’s online presence continues to grow. With over 100,000 active weblogs, Iran is the third largest blogging country in the world. Enthusiasts actively search and find ways to access forbidden and filtered sites such as Orkut, MySpace and Facebook using various methods and proxies. It was really interesting for me to identify the most common alternative to the challenge of forbidden social tools: Yahoo 360! (A personal communication portal operated by Yahoo, right here in Silicon Valley).
Yahoo 360 is one of the few social networking sites that is not filtered in Iran. Almost every single Iranian online community aficionado I spoke to boasted about their usage of a Yahoo 360 account–many as the main tool for sharing their photos, some as a means of networking, and the majority using it as their main blogging platform. I personally had never taken the time to fully complete my Yahoo 360 account, knowing that all development has actually ended and supposedly the site would be abandoned by 2008.
2009 has arrived and Yahoo 360 is still here (much to the relief of Iranian users), but the site continues to be featured as ‘beta’ with no recent formal announcements from Yahoo regarding its future. For the sake of 360 enthusiasts, I hope Yahoo does not do away with the tool and instead focuses on developing its features and addressing some of the bugs.
Here is an example of some of the conversations I had in Iran regarding Yahoo360.