Why Iran’s Green Movement Faltered: The Limits of Information Technology in a Rentier State


This paper examines the role of two variables in the confrontation between Green Movement reformists and the Iranian regime: social media and oil. Social media contributed to the size and intensity of the Green Movement; its effect on protests was to make them larger, which presumably, exerted political pressure on the regime. A more subtle effect of the social media-augmented protests was to increase world oil prices, a turn of events that indirectly aided the Iranian regime by increasing its revenues. Thus, the effect of social media on the Green Movement was ambiguous, since it both helped and hindered its aims; that is, it increased the challenge to the regime, but also increased revenues used to defuse that very challenge.