Twitter delays planned maintenance to keep Iran message supported
June 16th, 2009

Howard Rheingold’s seminal observations about what he dubbed “smart mobs” in his 2002 book of that name describe a primary reporting phenomenon in the election aftermath in Iran. In a front page New York Times story today by reporters Brad Stone and Noam Cohen the lede says: As the embattled government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to be trying to limit Internet access and communications in Iran, new kinds of social media are challenging those traditional levers of state media control and allowing Iranians to find novel ways around the restrictions. Here is more from the story, including Twitter’s supportive response:

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 in 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.

Labeling such seemingly spontaneous antigovernment demonstrations a “Twitter Revolution” has already become something of a cliché. That title had been given to the protests in Moldova in April.

But Twitter is aware of the power of its service. Acknowledging its role on the global stage, the San Francisco-based company said Monday that it was delaying a planned shutdown for maintenance for a day, citing “the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran.”

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