Twitter got an interesting tech support call from a highly unique customer today: The Obama Administration, via the U.S. State department, which reportedly asked the microblogging service to delay a system upgrade in order to maintain the tsunami of history-making tweets about and emanating from Iran via Twitter’s #iranelection topic in the wake of the country’s highly disputed presidential election. It’s unclear if high-ranking members of President Obama’s team were directly involved in this Twitter request; given that this is by far the country’s most Web 2.0-centric Administration, however, it’s possible they were. (Last April, the State Department included Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in a sponsored delegation of technology executives to neighboring Iraq, in order to show, among other applications, a spokesman explained, how “new technologies can be used to build local capacity, foster greater transparency and accountability, build upon anti-corruption efforts.”)
In any case, it’s fascinating to contrast this behind-the-scenes activity with the official statements coming from the White House. President Obama’s first public statement on the Iran turmoil yesterday was muted and highly cautious, taking pains (in light of historic U.S. interference in Iran) to emphasize that his Adminstration respects Iranian sovereignty and self-rule. (Critics have instead urged him to condemn Iran’s repressive tactics.) At the same time, however, his State Department is actively working with the central conduit of protest against Iran’s government: Twitter. As the President put it yesterday, “[W]e do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected.”
Image courtesy of Wired’s Danger Room.