Twitter has announced that their scheduled maintenance upgrade will now take place tonight at 10pm UK time. This is the middle of the afternoon in the US.
The move comes as a response to the crucial role that Twitter is playing in the ongoing unrest in Iran. The maintenance work was originally scheduled to run overnight in the US but this would have meant an afternoon blackout in Iran. The new time is 1.30am in Iran.
It’s a brave move by Twitter and it has to be applauded. The move also highlights what a major global communication force the microblogging service has become.
The Iran situation is just the latest of an ever increasing line-up of historically significant incidents that Twitter has been closely involved with. During the 2008 Mumbai attacks, eyewitnesses were reported to be sending around 80 tweets every five seconds as the tragedy unfolded. Some of these tweets contained vital information such as listing the dead and injured as well as giving emergency phone numbers and the location of hospitals that needed blood donations.
Earlier this year the Australian Country Fire Authority used Twitter to tweet updates regarding the Victorian bushfires. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also used Twitter to communicate with the Australian public during this period.
As a Zune owner, I got an email late last week telling me that the Zune store was going to be down for 48 hours, starting today. Not a problem for me, given that I don’t use it, but a bit of a pain for American Zuners, I would have thought. It would be like the iTunes Store going down for two days.