It has come to light that none other than the Obama administration itself asked Twitter to please delay planned routine maintenance this week, so that the juggernaut of Twittering and Twitter coverage of the Iran elections and ensuing demonstrations and riots could continue without interruption.
According to a report by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), an unnamed State Department official confirmed that the Obama State Department had asked Twitter to delay their maintenance during the turmoil in Iran because Twitter was serving as “an important means of communications,” with respect to Iran, particularly as the government of Iran has shut down many other forms of communication, and forbidden foreign correspondents from in-depth coverage of the situation, as thousands demonstrate and riot over what they perceive to have been a rigged election.
“One of the areas where people are able to get out the word is through Twitter. They announced they were going to shut down their system for maintenance and we asked them not to,” explained the State Department official, who also stated that the communication with Twitter had not come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly says that “We’re of course monitoring the situation through a number of different media, including social media networks like Facebook and Twitter,” adding that “We don’t want to be seen as interfering.”
President Obama reiterated that message, adding that “It is not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations to be seen as meddling – the US president, meddling in Iranian elections.”
Twitter was quite circumspect about any communications they received from on high; in fact, they didn’t mention the Federal request at all. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone simply wrote on their blog that “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).”
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