Twitter has shifted its planned downtime in order to remain up and running during Iran’s prime daylight hours, the better to assist what some Iranians consider a possibly fraudulent presidential election.
Twitter’s maintenance has now been rescheduled for between 2 and 3 p.m., PST, which corresponds to 1:30 a.m. in Iran. Originally, the upgrade had been planned for the night of June 16.
“However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran,” Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder, wrote in a corporate blog posting that afternoon. “Our partners are taking a huge risk just not for Twitter but also the other services they support worldwide-we commend them for being flexible in what is essentially an inflexible situation.”
The Iranian elections have emerged as a hot topic on Twitter, even driving many to reconsider the power of the social-networking service, which lets its users post 140-character micro-blogs, or “tweets,” for the public to read.
“Thought Twitter was stupid until I saw how it was being used to cover the protests and tumult in Iran,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Turn your avatar green to support Iran protests,” several other Tweets ordered.
Twitter grew approximately 131 percent in March 2009, according to research company comScore, and now has more than 9.3 million site visitors. Although the online rumor-mill has buzzed about the possibility of a Google, Facebook or Microsoft acquisition of the three-year-old site, Stone has publicly commented on his desire to keep the company independent for now.
Despite doubts by some analysts and pundits as to its ultimate utility, Twitter has also been incorporated more frequently into enterprise offerings, such as Salesforce.com; the site has also been collaborating with other companies, most notably Microsoft, to set up sponsored pages.
“We were joking in the office that if this growth rate continues week over week, we’ll run out of people on Planet Earth to sign up to Twitter by the end of the year,” Stone reportedly said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York, via video link, in May.
At least some of those people, evidently, include the protesters in Iran.