Twitter says U.S. asked that shutdown be delayed

Stone says Twitter remained online to help get protest information out of Iran

Twitter Inc. late yesterday acknowledged that the U.S. State Department had contacted the Web company about delaying its scheduled site maintenance because of the number of Iranians who have been using Twitter to get information out about the political situation there.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone noted in a blog post that the planned maintenance was postponed from Monday night until late yesterday to let the Twitter posts continue coming out of the country.

"When we worked with our network provider yesterday to reschedule this planned maintenance, we did so because events in Iran were tied directly to the growing significance of Twitter as an important communication and information network," wrote Stone. "It's humbling to think that our two-year old company could be playing such a globally meaningful role that state officials find their way toward highlighting our significance. However, it's important to note that the State Department does not have access to our decision making process. Nevertheless, we can both agree that the open exchange of information is a positive force in the world."

Over the last several days, Twitter has played a key role in helping Iranian citizens get information out to the world about the chaos that erupted after the disputed elections there.

The Iranian government has blocked or shut down various modes of communication -- phone lines, satellite dishess and even text messaging -- but its people have flocked to Twitter to send out messages about what's happening inside the country. And people around the world have send them responses over the Twitter social network.

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