Twitter Brings Users Together in Real Time for Iran Election, MJ

ANALYSIS: With the outpouring of traffic over the Iranian presidential election and the death of Michael Jackson, Twitter came into its own in June as a real-time communicatons vehicle and social search engine. But how will Twitter make money from businesses that use this tool for messaging and collaboration, and what will disruptions mean for the microblog service?

There was a time in 2008 when you couldn't go a week or two without reading on popular high-tech blogs that Twitter was down. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington often complained about the loss of Twitter and frequently ripped the service for going down, exhorting the startup's founders to improve the platform's scalability.

Fast forward to 2009. Twitter, the microblog that lets users around the globe "tweet"-shout out in real time online with short messages of up to 140 characters-has become so influential that even the U.S. government is asking the company's service to remain running 24/7.

Twitter had scheduled a key network upgrade for June 15 with its network host NTT America Enterprise Hosting Services. The upgrade was planned for Monday night in the United States, but NTT America told Twitter how important the Twitter service was playing as a real-time communication tool in Iran, which was in the midst of a fiery controversy over the presidential election.

Fans and detractors of Iranian presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad weighed in with their thoughts and feelings about the election, which many claim was rigged for Ahamdinejad. The traffic to Twitter and other sites was tremendous, but the planned downtime would have deadened daytime service in Iran on Tuesday.

So Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and his team rescheduled the maintenance for 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. PDT June 16, or 1:30 a.m. in Iran. The upgrade was a success, boosting Twitter's much-needed network capacity. Stone later explained in a blog post:

"When we worked with our network provider yesterday to reschedule this planned maintenance, we did so because events in Iran were tied directly to the growing significance of Twitter as an important communication and information network. Although presumed impossible if not extremely difficult, we decided together to move the date. It made sense for Twitter and for NTT America to keep services active during this highly visible global event."