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State Dept. Spoke To Twitter About Keeping Iran Online

MATTHEW LEE   06/16/09 05:25 PM ET   AP

Twitter

WASHINGTON — The State Department this week asked Twitter to postpone a scheduled maintenance shutdown of its service to keep information flowing from inside Iran amid the growing crisis over its disputed election, three U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The officials said the department intervened with Twitter executives to urge them to delay a planned shutdown of the microblogging site that would have kept it offline for 90 minutes during what would have been daytime on Monday in Iran.

The request was apparently honored by Twitter, to ensure Iranians would be able to communicate with each other if other communication avenues were shut down during that brief postelection period.

The move also allowed the U.S. government to maintain access to eyewitness accounts of what is happening on the ground in Iran, the officials said. Iran has been roiled by protests after hardline incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced the winner over opposition challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Twitter announced on its Web site Monday that it had rescheduled the maintenance shutdown citing "the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran."

Twitter postponed the maintenance one day.

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Filed by Susan Crile  |