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US gov asked Twitter to stay up for Iran protests

Obama meddling?

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On Monday, Twitter delayed a scheduled upgrade so that its micro-blogging service would not be down during daylight hours in Iran, where Tweets have fueled protests against the disputed presidential election. And according to press reports, the delay was requested by the US State Department.

"In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in a blog post Monday afternoon. "However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran. Tonight's planned maintenance has been rescheduled to tomorrow between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran)."

Stone did not mention a request from the State Department. But according to an unnamed official speaking with the AFP, the Obama Administration asked Twitter to delay the shutdown because its service is "an important means of communications" in Iran.

"One of the areas where people are able to get out the word is through Twitter," the official said. "They announced they were going to shut down their system for maintenance and we asked them not to."

The official did not say who from the State Department had contacted Twitter, but he said it was not Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told the news service that the Department had been in touch with Twitter throughout the weekend, but did not specifically say that a downtime delay was discussed.

Meanwhile, President Obama issued a statement that seemed to frown on such intervention. "It is not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations to be seen as meddling - the US president, meddling in Iranian elections." ®

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