Monday, June 15, 2009

Twitter Downtime Delayed to Aid Iran Communications

Twitter has jumped into the political fray, acknowledging the critical role it is playing in Iran, with this announcement:

Down Time Rescheduled

A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran. Tonight's planned maintenance has been rescheduled to tomorrow between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran).
Perhaps, in taking this step, Twitter has chosen to become more than a mere, neutral conduit for information - it has embraced a proactive role as an advocate for change.
The New York Times has more on the leading role of social media in Iran: Social Networks Spread Iranian Defiance Online:

Iranians are blogging, posting to Facebook and, most visibly, coordinating their protests on Twitter, the messaging service. Their activity has increased, not decreased, since the presidential elections on Friday and ensuing attempts by the government to restrict or censor their online communications.

On Twitter, reports and links to photos from a peaceful mass march through Tehran on Monday, along with accounts of street fighting and casualties around the country, have become the most popular topic on the service worldwide, according to Twitter’s published statistics.

A couple of Twitter feeds have become virtual media offices for the supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi. One feed, mousavi1388, (1388 is the year in the Persian calendar) is filled with news of protests and exhortations to keep up the fight, in Persian and English. It has more than 7,000 followers.

Mr. Moussavi’s fan group on Facebook has swelled to over 50,000 members, a significant increase since election day.

CBC is also following this story: Twitter emerges as news source during Iran media crackdown

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto


Welcome Twitter Blog readers.

A reader makes a good point that Twitter may be helping save lives with this delay of its scheduled downtime. Perhaps, in that sense, the change is akin to a phone company ensuring that its lines remain open in an emergency.

What is unique in this circumstance, however, is that emergency or not, the leaders of Iran apparently would prefer it if the lines all went dead.

And Twitter's not buying in.

(Compare that with Google's "deal" with China).

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