Miami Man Relays Messages From Iran To Twitter

Friday, June 19th 2009, 5:33 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

MIAMI, OK -- An Oklahoma man watching the Iranian protests decided he couldn't sit by and do nothing.  He's not marching in the streets or waving protest signs.  Armed with his laptop, he is helping give a voice to the people the Iranian government is trying to silence, 140 characters at a time.         

When the protests erupted in Iran, the government tried to keep the cameras from rolling and fade the pictures of an emerging crisis to black.  But, they started popping up anyway on the popular micro-blogging site, Twitter.

And, it's those 140 character messages that found their way to a small town in Oklahoma and caught Anthony Papillion's attention and drove him to action.

"What can I do as far as within my limited skill set, I wanted to help," said Twitter proxy Anthony Papillion.

Papillion says Iran quickly blocked Twitter to try to stem the tide of information.  And, that's when he and other like-minded techies stepped in to lend a digital hand to a protest half-way-around the world.

"It doesn't matter where you are. You can be in Siberia or in Oklahoma or in the smallest town. As long as you can connect to the internet you can have a voice and you can make a huge difference on a global scale," said Anthony Papillion.

He created a proxy server.  Basically, it allows users in Iran to send messages to his computer and then that computer relays the message to Twitter.

"As far as the government's concerned, they've never touched Twitter. As far as Twitter is concerned, they've never touched Twitter. We post everything anonymously," said Anthony Papillion.

Papillion says the program has been downloaded about 5,000 times, and the more proxies, the better because the Iranian government is on to them.

"It really is a chess game. It's one of those things where we're trying to stay one step ahead of the censors and they're trying to shut us down and trying to catch people who are circumventing because it is a crime," said Anthony Papillion.

Papillion says he and other proxies have been threatened. But, it hasn't stopped him.