Shalom Life | May 26, 2014

Iran Looks to Ban Instagram, Again

The photo-sharing app now joins the likes of Facebook and Twitter, which are also blocked in the country

By: Shaleni McBain

Published: May 23rd, 2014 in Business » World

An Iranian court ordered Iran’s Ministry of Telecommunications to block Instagram on Friday.

According to “semiofficial” news agency Mehr, the order came due to privacy concerns and stemmed from a private lawsuit. It is unclear whether the Iranian Ministry of Telecommunications will follow the court order. In any event, it's certainly not the first social media platform to be barred in the country, nor is it the first time for Instagram, either.

The Iranian government has already made Facebook, Twitter and YouTube inaccessible, and the government blocked Instagram for 12 hours on Dec. 29. 2013.

The country also blocked poplar messaging system ‘WhatsApp’ earlier this month stating the reasoning was Mark Zuckerberg, CEO at Facebook, is an "American Zionist."

Instagram is an extremely popular social network in Iran, considering many others have been made inaccessible. However over the past few days Iranians have reported disruptions in the service including being unable to view pictures on the platform.

Instagram has yet to comment on the matter.

The problem didn’t stem from a government decision, instead from Facebook moving Instagram’s distribution network to it’s own services, which are blocked in Iran. Some Iranian accounts have been seeing black squares where photos should be presented.

Those in the country with access to Twitter - through network workarounds - have started protesting the potential Instagram block with the hashtag #IranNetFreedom.

During the governments first block of Instagram in Dec. 2013, Mashable reported that the app's new private-messaging feature may have given politicians cause for concern.

Iran has been pushing for an Instagram substitute, Lenzor, launched by Iranian social network Cloob.com. The government has been promoting Lenzor because the servers are inside of Iran and can be better controlled by the local government.

Many thought when Rouhani was elected in 2013 it would be the start of more internet freedom, but if anything, tensions have intensified. Politicians in the country are reportedly divided on how much freedom citizens should be allowed on social media.

The country's relationship with social media is a string of contradictions. Although Facebook and Twitter are officially blocked in the country, around four million Iranians use workarounds to regularly log onto the social networks. President Hassan Rouhani is an active Twitter user, and he also has an Instagram account, as does Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Prior to the country's blocking of Facebook they asked the social media website in 2012 to remove all pages and groups that included pornographic images. The website does not allow pornographic images, but Irans definition of pornography is vastly different from that of North America.

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