Iran blocks social media apps amid anti-government protests

Social media access restricted in Iran

Telegram, which allows both individual messages between users, and for channels to broadcast simultaneously to millions of subscribers, is particularly popular in Iran, where it says it has over 20 million users.

"Iranian authorities started blocking Telegram in Iran today after we publicly refused to shut down channels of peaceful Iranian protesters, such as @sedaiemardom", Telegram founder Pavel Durov, wrote in a blog, in response to Iran's internet censorship.

Iran state TV said yesterday that authorities were temporarily blocking the services to "maintain peace", according to the AP news agency.

The Amad News channel was suspended by Telegram for violating the Terms of Service (ToS) in regard to inciting violence. Last year, app's founder Pavel Durov confirmed that the app had 40 million users in the country which is nearly 50% of Iran's entire population.

On Tuesday Durov wrote on Twitter that while Telegram was being blocked in Iran, a rival messaging app that offers privacy, WhatsApp, was still available there.

The "core" problem, he believes, is the centralized nature of the app, which is entirely controlled by its developers, who insist that they will never reveal their user data, or comply with illegal requests by governments. But economic sanctions imposed on the country have made access to some of those tools more hard, said Collin Anderson, a cybersecurity researcher who planned to publish a report this week about Iran's capabilities.

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Iranian internal minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli claimed in a statement that some individuals on social networks were "causing violence and fear".

Iranian officials have blocked a messaging app that's being used to organize anti-government protests which have rocked the country, resulting in more than 20 deaths and hundreds of arrests.

Many don't seem to understand why I object to @Telegram having unsafe, censorable public channels in an app that is promoted as a secure messenger.

Since the 2009 Green Movement, more Iranians have access to anti-censorship technology, such as VPNs and proxies, servers that transmit content that can evade government controls. The Iranian protests have since spread primarily to cities and towns along Iran's western border, with Iraq.

In other words, Iranian censors are clearly trying to suppress knowledge of how large (and in some cases violent) the protests have become, as well as disrupt the protesters' ability to organise. It happened in many states in India and many other countries internationally. There were also 25 million daily users.

Last year Durov was forced to deny that Telegram had moved some of its servers to the country - saying rather it had installed some local caching nodes to speed up download times. The government requires that admins running channels with more than 5,000 members register with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

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