THIS WEEK IN (COULD BE MORE) VIRAL NEWS
Let’s talk about Iran.
Every week we try to talk about all the topics driving the online conversation from a Gen Z perspective, and usually, the themes revolve around controversies, trends, or challenges. This week, we’ve been seeing several things fall into this category, but one of them caught Gen Z’s attention more profoundly. Even though this topic could be more viral, it is definitely touching a particular activism vein in young people. It all started with the murder of Mahsa Amini—a Gen Z herself— under the custody of the Iranian Morality Police after being detained for not wearing her hijab in a “proper” manner. The death of the 22-year-old sparked a national movement in Iran that has been going on for more than 12 days, and Gen Zs worldwide have had things to say about it.
INTERNET IS DOWN
The first big wave of online content coming from the protests drove a lot of attention from the world to what was happening in Iran. The demonstrations, guided mainly by young Gen Z women, turned violent and caught some international eyes because of police brutality. As a result, the Iranian government shut down access to mobile internet, affecting different platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram that are vital for sharing information. The US has taken some action to increase access by placing internet-related exemptions to the sanctions on Iran, allowing better connection and VPN access to the Iranian people.
While the protests continue all over Iran, there are also demonstrations worldwide in solidarity because of the oppression happening in the Islamic Republic. Some are showing solidarity with the women protesters in Tehran by cutting their hair and burning their headscarves as an act of rebellion against the regime. Accumulating millions of views, some TikTokers have been more effective than many news outlets in reaching the younger demographics and spreading awareness.
SPREADING THE WORD
The shift towards accessing news through Social Media has been a trend we've been following for a long time now, but it's in these moments where the true impact of these "alternative" ways of consuming information comes to light. Yes, some accounts use Instagram to share content from other social media like Twitter, making it more widespread. Still, it is Gen Z's handle of eye-grabbing strategies that highlights the power of peer-to-peer communication and genuine engagement with these stories. Like Nika Azari's gimmick to talk about the Adam Levine scandal but putting a spotlight on Iran instead. Or Yeganeh Mafaher expressing her frustration with the online conversation —or lack of— around this topic. Currently, #MahsaAmini has over 799M views on TikTok.