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Molaverdi on Her Online Social Status, Informal Comments
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Molaverdi on Her Online Social Status, Informal Comments

Before becoming an attorney and then the vice-president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi was a researcher and women’s rights activist. She was also a big fan of social networks as an active member of Facebook before she took office; although she has received criticism not just for her Facebook membership but also using it as a work tool to  enhance her work and better her relations with her audience. But she has stood her ground in defense of her use of social networks. She now has 6,000 Facebook friends.
“I leave no questions unanswered on my Facebook page; social networks may have a few vices but they also possess many virtues that make up for those vices,” says Molaverdi in an interview with the newspaper Iran.

 Early Days
Molaverdi says her knack for social networks is rooted in the days when she began to feel the need to keep in touch with like-minded friends and colleagues. But she says after assuming public office she felt her cyber presence was needed even more. Now she uses Facebook as a means to keep up with the ongoing events around the country and the world and what people really think about those events. She says those events influence her decision-makings.
“In the past I didn’t have much time and it sufficed to share other people’s comments, but now I take the time to make comments but I wish I could do more,” she says. “People are mostly fond of my casual and unconventional comments or replies I leave for the criticism directed at my office.”  

 Informal Content
When asked why people prefer her informal comments, she says that people are already exposed to her official comments on a wide scale but her everyday remarks can only be found on her Facebook page. She spends at least one hour every night on Facebook and if the opportunity presents itself, she joins groups on other social websites as well especially if they are in the area of women and family since it can be a “source of inspiration” for Molaverdi.    
“In the early days of my work, I was especially slammed for my use of Facebook to contact my audience but I told them that I use it as an important tool especially when my daily job is done, and I need some time to freely mull over various issues.”  

 Audience
Molaverdi says the viewers of her comments are not the common people but mostly the educated members of the middle class. “If I had more time, I would expand my readership to include a wider audience. I believe that no official should ignore this golden opportunity of using social websites to enhance their work since we are now living in a world that to keep pace with the emerging social trends we cannot turn a blind eye on them or else we will encounter serious problems in our policymaking by continuing to act traditional.”  

 Inappropriate Language
Molaverdi admits she has received hate messages and demeaning comments as well.  She mentions that the sensitivity of her work provokes these comments. “I am especially sensitive about my private messages and reply to them personally and if I don’t have the time I leave my email address so we can correspond later” she says, adding “sometimes people can’t believe I reply to them personally.”
Insisting that despite all the harmful material that can be found on social media, the “threats” can turn into “opportunities” by taking advantage of this close relationship between people that has been made possible thanks to social media.

 First Post
Her first Facebook post after she took office was “Regards to the Fellow Women of My Homeland” which drew heavy criticism not only for not including men in that message but also because she had used Facebook to deliver that message – an anathema to some conservatives who even regarded use of Facebook an illegal act. She responded by saying that Facebook activity is criminal only if it is used for anti-social behavior.

 Impact on Women  
Molaverdi opines that the impact of social media on women and families on the whole is great and far-reaching. These networks have reduced conversations between families as part of their negative effects and “we should try to minimize the ill effects and help use it properly.  I recommend that women use these websites for particular uses and not excessively or else we will have no time for our daily tasks and errands.”    
Molaverdi expresses her concern that use of social networks will replace reading and books – for her children and everyone else. “I am concerned about the addiction that has formed around these media.”   

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