Iran blocks Instagram

Posted on January 3, 2018

 

Popular photo-sharing platform Instagram and messaging app Telegram have temporarily been blocked by the Iranian government, leaving users of these services in the Middle Eastern country unable to access their social media accounts.

According to The Associated Press (AP), on New Year’s Day, Iranian state TV announced that the authorities were set to temporarily block these services in order to “maintain peace” in the midst of a surge of anti-government protests in recent times, with the authorities believing social media to be a catalyst in this dissent.

Telegram boasts a large number of users within Iran, with Pavel Durov, the app’s founder, stating that in 2017 the app had 40 million active monthly users, This is approximately half of the Iranian population, and the country has 25 million active users on a daily basis.

On December 30, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, the Iranian ICT minister, tweeted Durov stating that certain channels of the Telegram app were promoting “hateful conduct” and urged Durov to put an end to this.

Durov confirmed that he had suspended the channels that Jahromi was referring to, as they had broken the terms of service of the app. He also confirmed that Iranian authorities had imposed a ban on the app, stating that it was unclear whether this was permanent or just temporary.

This is not the first time Iran has blocked social media sites and gaming apps from being used within its borders. Back in 2009, Iran cut its use of the biggest social media site of all, Facebook, from being used by its people for nearly a week. At the time, no reason was given for the Facebook ban, but some have suggested that it was for political purposes relating to an election at the time.

More recently, Iran became the first nation to ban augmented reality app Pokémon Go in August 2016. The app had just been introduced and had taken the world by storm, seeing users all around the globe roaming the streets, parks and anywhere else they could access attempting to catch augmented reality creatures. Iranian authorities imposed a ban on the app for security purposes due to the location-based features of the game, and because developers had not requested permission to use them from the Iranian government.

With media censorship a common in Iran, it is not unusual to see platforms being blocked by the country’s government. It is believed that the Iranian government has pushed for control over foreign social media and messaging platforms in the past, which in 2016 saw it urge social networks to move some of their servers to Iran, sparking numerous privacy concerns.

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