Washington : The US State Department urged the social networking website Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance that would have cut off access to Iranians as protests were erupting over the presidential election, an official said.
The State Department was concerned the Iranians would not be able to communicate the rapidly unfolding events in the country if Twitter went down for the maintenance.
“We highlighted to them that this was an important form of communication,” a senior official said Tuesday, according to the Washington Times. “One of the areas where people are able to get out the word is through Twitter. They announced they were going to shut down their system for maintenance and we asked them not to.”
US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly confirmed that the State Department had been in contact “all weekend” with Twitter but did not say whether it was directly related to the election in Iran.
“This is about the Iranian people. This is about the giving their voices a chance to be heard,” he said. “One of the ways that their voices are heard are through new media.”
Twitter issued a statement on its blog Monday announcing that its network host had agreed to delay the critical upgrade until 1:30 a.m. Iran time Wednesday.
“Our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran,” the statement said.
Thousands of protestors have taken to the streets since Friday’s election, most on behalf of reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi, who was overwhelmingly defeated by incumbent hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Moussavi’s supporters allege that the results were rigged in the election that has drawn worldwide attention. US President Barack Obama has expressed concerns about the violence and the election.
“I have deep concerns about the election and I think that the world has deep concerns about the election,” Obama said after meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Tuesday.