It is a new and uncomfortable era for regimes that rely on manipulation, lies and terror. Crowdsourced video footage, intrepid reporting, crash scene photos, and open-source flight tracking played a role in building an international consensus online before Iran came clean. No doubt China and Russia are watching this play out in real time and taking notes so they can clamp down on unflattering information before it goes viral.
The newfound honesty of the Iranian regime, however, should not be taken as a sign that they have suddenly turned over a new leaf and will behave as more responsible members of the international community.
Senior Iranian government officials, to project a more human face, do seem to be learning how to leverage social media for their own advantage. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted an emoji in an attempt to convey how heartbroken he was by the loss of life from the crash.