Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Tehran's Twitter Blackout, Averted

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, June 15 2009

President Obama made a statement earlier today telling protesters in Iran that "they should know that the world is watching" what's happening in that country. But there was a chance for a few hours today that one way the world wouldn't be watching tonight was through Twitter. Twitter, you might have heard, is being heavily utilized to push out information from Tehran, circulate it around the globe, and aggregate commentary from outside Iran looking in. That's why when Twitter Inc., the small San Francisco-based company, tweeted word this afternoon of a two-hour "maintenance window" scheduled for 9:45pm Pacific time in the U.S. -- mid-morning Tehran time -- the reaction was fast and furious. In short, Twitter had attained mission-critical status, and downtime at this time was unacceptable. A rallying point emerged in the form of the #nomaintenance hashtag. It was retweeted, and retweeted, and retweeted again, quickly nearing the top of Twitter's trending list. Twitter dug in its heels: the network maintenance was out of their control and would go on as planned. The storm of tweeted protest continued (with a dose or two of smack talk thrown into the mix: "Say all you want about CNN, at least it doesn't get shut down for maintenance.")

Finally, a break. Just a few minutes ago -- and in a rather striking demonstration of both a user-and-service feedback loop measured in mere hours and the sense of ownership Twitter's users have over the network -- Twitter relented. (Or more accurately, their New York-based network provider did.) "Our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran," they posted to the company blog tonight. "Tonight's planned maintenance has been rescheduled to tomorrow between 2-3p PST," with a helpful note that that's "1:30a in Iran." (Photo by .faramarz)

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Hot Spots

How Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is making inroads in China; labor protests among Uber drivers spread to more cities; new data about the prevalence of online harassment; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Reminders

Why the RNC hasn't managed to reboot how Republican campaigns use voter data; new ways of using phone banking to get out the vote; how the UK's digital director is still ahead of the e-govt curve; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Patient Zero

Monica Lewinsky emerges with a mission to fight cyber-bullying; Marc Andreessen explains his political philosophy; tech donors to MayDay PAC get pushback from Congressional incumbents; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Front Pagers

How Facebook's trending topics feed is wrecking political news; debating the FBI's need for an encrypted phone "backdoor"; democratizing crisis data; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Tracking

Questions about whether Whisper is secretly tracking its users' secrets; the FBI's continued push against the new wave of encrypted phones; community service, high-tech-mogul-style; and much, much more. GO

More