[twitter & politics]

Is Twitter now a part of U.S. foreign policy? The Washington Post reports that:

The State Department asked social networking site Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance earlier this week in order to avoid disrupting communications among tech-savvy Iranian citizens as they took to the streets to protest Friday’s reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

That sounds like a wow. Only maybe not. A few grafs down the Post also reports that the White House downplayed the request this way:

“This wasn’t a directive from Secretary of State, but rather was a low-level contact from someone who often talks to Twitter staff.”

But a senior State Department official told the Post that the contacts were quite official.

“One of the areas where people are able to get out the word is through Twitter,” said a senior State Department official in a conversation with reporters, on condition of anonymity. “They announced they were going to shut down their system for maintenance and we asked them not to.”

On the other hand, is this all being blown out of proportion by the Twitter-loving press?

“Twitter’s impact inside Iran is zero,” said Mehdi Yahyanejad, manager of a Farsi-language news site based in Los Angeles. “Here, there is lots of buzz, but once you look . . . you see most of it are Americans tweeting among themselves.”

Re: Twitter's impact inside Iran is zero? Not sure about that. If people are doing something outside of Iran, wouldn't that have an impact within?

See these stories too:

  • Iranian Youth Protests Could Outlast Ahmadinejad Rule
    "Since the election, reformist Web sites, as well as Twitter and Facebook, have been cut off in Iran, although Iranians are evading the controls via proxy"
  • Iran's Twitter Revolution "Ahmadinejad will twitter to his supporters he will save Iran from the rule of the twitter mobs and the Ayatollahs and mullahs will twitter"
  • Dissecting Twitter's Role In Tech, Society, Politics"The Iran situation, where Twitter continued to provide communication resources to Iran residents after the government had shut down other communication"
  • Iran's Protests: Why Twitter Is the Medium of the Movement "The U.S. State Department doesn't usually take an interest in the maintenance schedules of dotcom start-ups. But over the weekend, officials there reached out to Twitter and asked them to delay a network upgrade that was scheduled for Monday night. The reason? To protect the interests of Iranians using the service to protest the presidential election that took place on June 12. Twitter moved the upgrade to 2 p.m. P.T. Tuesday afternoon — or 1:30 a.m. Tehran time." (this link via @SteveCadwell)

Article from Richard Koman at ZDNet.

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