Amid protests, Iran is blocking social media apps and other web services

Jan 2, 2018

The United States on Tuesday urged Iran to stop blocking online social media and advised its citizens to set up virtual private networks, or VPNs, to circumvent censorship.

Since the protests erupted, Iran has restricted some social media services like Instagram and Telegram that authorities fear will be used to spread news about the unrest.

About 20 million of the country’s 80 million residents use Instagram, and approximately 40 million are estimated to use Telegram, Politico reports.

“Telegram, in particular, is extremely important in terms of where people get their information,” said Kaveh Azarhoosh, a researcher who publishes a monthly paper on Iran's internet policy.

Given already-existing censorship on certain social media sites and website, Azarhoosh says many Iranians used Telegram’s channels to receive information.

“Because of that, [Telegram] became more than a messaging app,” Azarhoosh said. “For a lot of people, Telegram was the internet in Iran.”

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporting was used in this story.

From PRI's The World ©2017 PRI