How to suppress a viral video, the Iranian way, at LobeLog

A couple of weeks ago, a few 20-somethings in Iran got it in their heads to record a YouTube video with six of them dancing to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy.” The video went moderately viral and got about 160,000 views before it was made private a few days ago. Why was it made private, you ask? Well, because conservatives in Iran’s ruling class apparently saw the video and were so scandalized by the sight of men and women dancing together that they decided that this still relatively obscure YouTube video was a good hill to die on in their fight to beat back the forces of reform/moderation/modernity. So, they very publicly arrested everybody involved in the video, coerced confessions out of them, and…drew massive amounts of old media and social media attention to something that they were trying to suppress, including lots of copies of the original video that have now gone way more viral than the original did. Great success!

In order to help other repressive, conservative regimes around the world with their YouTube problems, I’ve crafted “An Iranian Conservative’s Guide to Suppressing YouTube Videos,” available now at LobeLog. I hope it helps:

Step 1: Find an offensive video to ban

You might consider deliberately looking for something to get mad about strange, but rest assured that combing the internet for something that outrages you is a completely legitimate and highly productive use of your time.

Now, you can’t redirect people’s outrage with just any video. Please use a discerning eye and find something that is really offensive. Like kittens — nobody likes kittens, with their little slashing claws and sharp teeth. Babies are also good — I mean, who likes babies? Or, hypothetically of course, you could find a video of pleasant-looking young people violating the long-held prohibition on men and women appearing together in an internet video and dancing to a song sung by an American who wears a funny hat. You’ll want something that’s gone a little “viral” but hasn’t blown up too much, because then you won’t be able to greatly increase awareness of the existence of the video while simultaneously trying to make sure that it never gets seen.

Happy theocracy-ing, everybody!

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