15 June 2009

Iran: Twitter Down Tonight (Updated)

The timing is pretty gobsmacking, but Twitter has scheduled a 90 minute outage for tonight.
Maintenance window tonight, 9:45p Pacific 16 minutes ago
We will have 90 minutes of maintenance starting tonight at 9:45p Pacific. Critical network upgrades will be performed during this time.
The information was posted around 4:30 PM EDT today (Monday).

Surely the folks at Twitter are aware of how crucial the service has been for the Iranian protesters? Twitter has been the only tool the Iranian government hasn't been able to block. Surely the service can postpone the upgrades?

Added: Twitter has noted the public's concern over the outage and has posted this followup:
Update (2:03p): Unfortunately the timing of this maintenance period is not within our control as our provider needs to perform these network upgrades. We apologize for the outage and hope to be back from the maintenance as quickly as our host can perform the work.
The shutdown is distressing because reports about armed militias victimizing protesters are increasing--all over the country, not just in Tehran.

If Twitter goes down, the protesters will lose their ability to warn fellow Iranians about the presence of Bajiji forces and about which areas come under attack by vigilantes. In ninety minutes, many youth could die because they took the wrong street in Tehran and ran smack into security.

They will lose the surest tool to debunk rumors generated by pro-government / anti-Mousavi forces (for example, yesterday's attempt to suppress Monday's via unverifiable stories that Mousavi himself canceled the march). And in ninety minutes, many rumors can take root.

They will lose their global voice, their ability to share the events in Iran with the world and expose the abuses that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

Twitter, please speak with your provider and postpone the maintenance. You are an indispensable medium of history.

Update: Twitter has postponed the upgrades! Thank you, Twitter!

UPDATE TWO: The upgrades are scheduled to occur Tuesday at 5 pm EDT. Protesters and their supporters remain concerned about losing touch with Iran.

Also, the U. S. State Department claims to have spoken to Twitter about delaying Monday's upgrade [Added: for more on that claim, see this post].

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