reported this morning on the Anderson Cooper blog that "the State Department is advising social networking sites to make sure their networks stay up and running for Iranians to use them and helping them stay ahead of anyone who would try to shut them down."With Twitter and Facebook playing such an important roll in getting information out of Iran this week, the last thing the world needs is an appearance of The Fail Whale. CNN's State Department Producer, Elise Labott,
Twitter decided yesterday to delay a scheduled downtime for maintenance until the middle of the night, Iran time. CNN reports that the decision was made at the suggestion of the State Department, but a large number of users suggested it as well. Incidentally, open source Twitter alternative Identi.ca, which has the potential to be much more useful due to its decentralized nature, followed Twitter's lead and also made major changes at a time convenient for Iranians.
This morning's report of State Department work with Twitter was a great scoop, given that the network faced heavy criticism for being slow to prioritize news from Iran this weekend while Twitter was on fire with updates.
Some critics have argued that news of US government collaboration with Twitter will offer the Iranian government more leverage in calling them insurgent agents of the US. The CNN report was confirmed this afternoon by Reuters. BoingBoing has a good write up on how to help, not hurt, the efforts in Iran.
We've been following news from Iraq via this excellent aggregator built by Twitter search engine Twazzup, by watching the StopAhmadi account in particular and by reading Robert Fisk's excellent coverage for context.
Twitter cynics take note - this service is clearly not just for posting about what people ate for lunch anymore. We wish the Twitter team luck in fighting to keep the lines of communication open.