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Posted by on Jun 16, 2009 in Science & Technology | 6 comments

Twitterverse Tries To Confuse Iranian Censors

UPDATE: In comments, Twitter is down for maintenance. 1:30 am in Iran, they delayed to minimize the impact there.


Both CNN and Reuters are reporting that the Obama administration asked Twitter to delay going down for scheduled maintenance last night to ensure Iranians could continue using the service to communicate to each other and the outside world. Twitter rescheduled.

But some folks are worried that the Iranian government might view users’ profiles to find and punish them for their subversive tweeting. CNet’s Daniel Terdiman:

There’s a new thread spreading quickly across Twitter–I found more than 1,300 such posts–urging people around the world to change those settings in order to make themselves appear to be in Tehran.

Under the profile setting, the plea goes, people should change their location to Tehran, and their time zone and home city to GMT +03:30 Tehran. The idea–and it’s not entirely clear if this would work–is that this will simply overwhelm the censors with people who look like they’re posting potentially subversive tweets from Iran, and hopefully, protect the actual Iranians who are doing so.

Twitter, of course–as well as other social media services, has been the front line for news about the massive protests–perhaps the biggest in Iran since the revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah. The service’s users–using the hashtag “#IranElection”–have consistently been ahead of the news media on the story. And Twitter convinced its host, NTT America, to delay scheduled downtime in order to keep the service up and running so as to continue to give users a way to spread and receive news about what’s going on in Iran.