The last of the main social media to be freely accessible

The last of the main social media to be freely accessible 1

The Iranian Supreme Council for Cyberspace has approved a package of measures aimed at preventing access to Instagram across the country, for national security reasons. Another crackdown in the war on social media, undertaken by Tehran since 2009.

At the moment, Instagram remains the last of the main social media to be freely accessible in the country. However, as established by the Tehran Council, the application will soon be blocked, as has already happened to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and, last in chronological order, Telegram.

Towards the Instagram block

According to what was declared by Javid Javidnia, of the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, Instagram would be used to commit crimes within Iranian territory. The decision to block the application follows a previous attempt to filter the tool, which however would not have obtained the desired results. Already in 2018 Iran had limited some internet services, intermittently restricting the functions of Instagram.

It is not yet clear when the decision will officially enter into force and whether it will be a temporary or permanent measure. Despite the favorable opinion on the closure of Instagram by the Prosecutor, in fact, there would still be a unanimous consensus between the judicial and political officials.

For his part, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, Mohammad-Javad Azari-Jahromi , has spoken out against the blockade of Instagram, fearing that this move could cause further problems for the Islamic Republic.

According to Azari-Jahromi, filtering Instagram would not be an effective strategy to neutralize potential threats, but on the contrary it could cause further damage to the country. The application is a valuable working tool for many businessmen. Its closure could aggravate the Iranian economic situation, which has become particularly complex since, in May 2018, the United States imposed new sanctions on the country, following its withdrawal from the nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Social media as a propaganda tool

In recent years, social media and instant messaging applications have been used to spread propaganda against Tehran globally, facilitating communication between citizens and organizing protests.

Between December 2017 and January 2018, in particular, Iran was shaken by a series of protests, caused by growing economic difficulties and the lack of civil liberties. Social media, especially Telegram, was at the center of the cyber war between opponents and the government, among the protagonists of the demonstrations.

Tehran’s immediate response was the sporadic suspension of internet access in the cities of protests. A short time later, in April 2018, the Iranian government banned the use of Telegram. According to the judiciary, the actions of users of the service, in particular propaganda against the government, terrorist activities, pornography and the spread of lies to incite public opinion”, would pose a threat to national security. Rose McGowan Clarifies Her Iran Tweet – Says She Wants USA To Be Better. To address the lack of social media, in April 2018, the Iranian government launched a new instant messaging application, Sonorous. The app, equipped with most of Telegram’s functions, aimed to replace existing social media, through a tool designed and built by the government.

However, fearing for their privacy and, in particular, that the government could control the messages sent through the new application, the Iranians took advantage of VPN – private telecommunications networks, able to circumvent the blockade. Despite the bans on social media, therefore, many Iranians would continue to access services, bypassing technical blocks and accessing apps through foreign internet addresses.

Some public figures continue to use social media: for example, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, President Hassan Brouhaha and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. A sign that, beyond the provisions of Tehran, it remains far from immediate to act as a barrier to today’s globalized and interconnected world.


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