Sci-tech

Iran blocks social media apps amid anti-government protests

Iran blocks social media apps amid anti-government protests”

The app became a popular way for users in the country to communicate and share information leading up to elections in 2016.

The protests have been the biggest show of dissent since rallies in 2009.

The "temporary" restrictions on the apps Telegram and Instagram were imposed to "maintain peace and order" state-run news agency Irib maintained. President Hassan Rouhani has said Iranians have the right to protest, but not to cause disorder. The instant messaging app, Telegram and the photo-sharing app, Instagram are banned in the country, and the complete Internet is blocked in several major cities.

Iran has chose to restrict access to Instagram and Telegram, amidst the country's protests, in order to prevent them being used to organise further acts of dissent against the nation's government.

According to the Times of Israel, the internet censorship came as videos of "thousands marching through the western cities of Khorramabad, Zanjan and Ahvaz" and elsewhere including Tehran spread quickly on social media. After wishing Telegram users a Happy New Year on his channel, Durov wrote,"On a less joyful note, Iranian authorities started blocking Telegram in Iran today after we publicly refused to shut down channels of peaceful Iranian protesters, such as @sedaiemardom".

"Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down https://t.me/sedaiemardom and other peacefully protesting channels", Pavel Durov wrote on Twitter Sunday.Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down https://t.co/9E4kXZYcP9 and other peacefully protesting channels.

Telecoms Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi had accused channels on Telegram of being "counter-revolutionary" and encouraging the "use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprising and social unrest". "As a result, they have been able to reassemble most of their subscribers (800,000) in a new peaceful channel, which we welcomed", said Durov. Activists in the streets demanded Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei step down, while some even demanded the return of Iran's pre-1979 monarchy.

Durov responded by saying Telegram suspended the account.

Telegram's decision drew criticism from free internet advocates and Iranians.



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