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State Dept. Reportedly Asked Twitter Not to do Maintenance During Iranian Uprising

3:00 PM, Jun 16, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Well, if that ain't the cheapest, most effective government intervention I've seen all year:

The State Department asked the social networking Web site Twitter last weekend to postpone scheduled maintenance that would have cut daytime service in Iran on Tuesday, just as protests against official election results were heating up, U.S. officials said.

Twitter, which has emerged as a leading unofficial news source from and into Iran since the Friday presidential election there, is still up and running in the Islamic republic, even though it has reportedly blocked text-messaging services.

The popular site had planned regular maintenance, which would have disabled access to it and its mobile version for several hours over the weekend. State Department officials noticed an announcement about the interruption and called Twitter to discourage it from going ahead with its plans.

"We highlighted to them that this was an important form of communication," a senior official told reporters. "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."

The #nomaintenance campaign among Twitter's own users likely had something to do with the postponement, as well, especially given than Twitter users, in aggregate, likely pinpointed the problem and communicated it to Twitter's higher-ups much faster and more effectively than the State Department could have.

Nonetheless, a Daily Kos diarist frets that this means Twitter is under the control of the U.S. government, presumably while on a break from castigating tea-party attendees for objecting to prolonged and invasive government control of the banking industry, auto industry, and corporate pay. You know, because a one-time request of a social network to postpone routine maintenance so that it could remain the only means of international communication for oppressed dissidents under the thumb of a violent and paranoid regime is way scarier than all that other stuff. Crazy tea-partiers.

Stay tuned for his next post about the dangers of ABC being controlled by the government.