Accidentally in Code

The Iranian Election is Trending

Posted on: June 14, 2009

There’s a large Persian population in Ottawa, especially in Computer Science. So, a lot of my friends are from Iran and I follow the international news so I’ve been watching the election results with interest. One of my friends wasn’t going to vote, so the other day I was embroiled in an argument about that (it’s his responsibility to, don’t complain if you don’t vote) during which another (Iranian) friend declared that I should have his passport, which I found rather funny.

Anyway, living in the West where our media coverage is no doubt biased against Ahmadinejad (although comments like this speak for themselves) and all my Persian friends hate the guy with varying degrees of venom, I’m likely biased. None of them seem to buy the election results. The margin is unconvincing. I’m inclined to agree.

So, lets check the trending data. Note though – this is likely to be skewed in favor of Ahmadinejad because he’s the current President.

I’m going to start with Twitter this time. You can see the graph from Twist below:

twistThis is interesting, because it’s actually Ahmadinejad that was more popular – I expected the opposite as Twitter likely has a more educated, liberal population. Although it looks like Mousavi has been more popular since the results came out – they’ve even been using Twitter to organize protests.

Blog Trends are below:

Blog Trends for Iranian Election

Not much to say here, but we can see the curves follow each other from around June 2nd, likely the election boost – but – Ahmadinejad is ahead of Mousavi.

Finally, Google Trends. This is more interesting, I think. Below is the graph:

Google Trends for the Iranian Election

Underneath the chart we can see where most of the traffic comes from, unsurprisingly it’s most from Iran (particuarly Tehran), in English and Persian.

Google Trends Breakdown for Iranian Election

So if we look just for Iran:

Google Trends for the Iranian Election (Iran)

This is interesting – because it’s so close. It’s a shame that the graph just stops because it doesn’t show what’s the case right before the election but on the face of this it’s hard to beleive the announced result.

However, if we look at the breakdown:

Google Trends Breakdown (Iran)

Mousavi is only winning out in English, Ahmadinejad is doing better overall, in Tehran, and in Persian.

Given that Facebook was temporarily blocked in the run up to the election, I would love to see the trending data there.

So – hard to draw conclusions. At the end of this, I still don’t really beleive that Ahmadinejad won by that margin – although ahead in trending stats I don’t think more than would anyway be biased towards a sitting president. I’m not saying he couldn’t have won fairly (in which case, any perceived tampering can only be bad for him), but the margin is just huge. But the real tragedy is how may of the Iranian people don’t beleive that democracy has played it’s course. Can that ever have a good outcome?

Update: Mashable has a good article on how social media can help you track what’s going on with the Iranian election here.

Update: Protesting by crashing websites. will let you put in a URL and auto-refresh it. Not advocating this, but if you wanted to participate some URLS are…

Update: Website crashing is slowing all traffic in Iran, causing problems. People listing useful ways to help are Green Revolution and apparently also this one which has been taken down, hopefully will be up again later.


2 Responses to "The Iranian Election is Trending"

Thanks Cate for ur support! It’s a truly horrible time for all of us even those outside Iran;

I just can’t stand my mom’s nervous voice when talking on the phone; I’m so much worried for my younger brother actively supporting the protesters! It’s hard to describe how dark it is

What’s the cost of this democracy?

I don’t care what the fair result is! I just cannot keep hearing they are shooting my friends in Iran! I just want it STOP now! RIGHT NOW!

Democracy might only be worth it because it means this never has to happen again. Clearly people want their voices to be heard, will they give up until they get that? But in your position I would feel the same. I am terrified for Behnoosh, have you heard from her? I hope your brother and the rest of your family will be OK xox

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