Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • When 140 Characters Can't Contain Your Tweet
  • Social Media Empowering Iranian Citizen Journalists
  • Facebook Grants Usernames, Crowd Goes Crazy
  • Opera Aims to Re-Invent the Web With Opera Unite

When 140 Characters Can't Contain Your Tweet

Popular micro-blogging site Twitter has a very restrictive 140 character limit. This keeps message short, sweet and to the point. But there are times where 140 characters aren't enough to convey your point.

There are a few services that allow you take a tweet beyond the 140 character limit count. Granted, they don't magically stretch the limit to say, 155 characters when you need it, but these services use Twitter's API to make the experience as integrated as possible.

For example, Write4Net makes it possible to write a longer message and share it with your followers. Other services mentioned in a recent ReadWriteWeb article include Tumblr, Posterous and Twerbose.

Social Media Empowering Iranian Citizen Journalists

The Iranian election results and ensuing protests and riots have caught the Iranian government off guard. To help quell the massive protests, the government limited foreign press movements, shut off cell phone service and SMS.

Also, US Media (especially CNN), has been slow to cover the story. Over the weekend, when many of the mass protests were happening, CNN was slow to cover the situation in the Persian country. Twitterrers called the situation #CNNFail because of CNN's lack of coverage on the Iranian election and resulting protests.

To help get out the message, Iranian tech-savvy citizens have taken matters in to their own hands. Using social media sites such as Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and FriendFeed, Iranians are showing us videos and pictures from their mobile phones.

Even though the information isn't verified by a valid media source, the pictures and videos are showing us action that isn't being covered by our traditional media sources.

How do you feel about the citizen journalist approach? Do you trust these alternative media stories?

Facebook Grants Usernames, Crowd Goes Crazy

On Friday of last week, Facebook released vanity URLs to the millions of Facebook users on the popular social networking site. That is, users were given the opportunity to register their friendly username such as "JasonHarris".

Facebook users jumped at the opportunity, and as a result, 300,00 usernames were divvied out in the first 3 minutes and 3 million were accounted for over the weekend.

No matter how you stack it, that's a high degree of user accounts to be granted. It goes to show that there was a huge amount of pent-up demand for friendly URLs on behalf of Facebook users.

Also, some creative people were registered some interesting usernames such as default.aspx and home, resulting in these funny URLs: http://facebook.com/default.aspx and http://facebook.com/home, respectively.

Opera Aims to Re-Invent the Web With Opera Unite

We have seen the rise of Web 2.0 technologies that have centered around one idea -- making the web more interactive between people. "Social" is the big buzzword that describes this phenomenon.

Opera released a new product yesterday from their Labs organization that "...turns any computer or device running Opera into a Web server. In other worlds, your computer (running Opera Unite) is truly part of the fabric of the Web, rather than just interacting with it."

In simple terms, social media has an inherent problem in that each social service we use is powered by a website that may go down or cease to exist at any time, taking your content with it.

Opera Unite aims to go around this by turning your local computer into a server and utilize peer to peer technology to share content and materials.

Curious? Then check out Opera Unite in the Labs section of Opera's website.