March 21, 2018

Iranian Authorities Block Access to Social Media Tools

12 January 2018, 09:40 | Lena Norman

Telegram is shutting down a channel that called for violent protests against Iran's government

Telegram Shuts Down Channel Promoting Violence Against Iran's Government

In response to Jahromi's tweet, Durov noted that Telegram admins had suspended the channel that the Iranian government pointed out.

Mr Durov said that was because Telegram had "publicly refused to shut down channels of peaceful Iranian protesters, such as @sedaiemardom". "If confirmed, we'll have to block such a channel, regardless of its size and political affiliation", wrote the director on his Twitter page. Authorities are temporarily blocking Telegram and Instagram to "maintain peace", according to the AP. "The admins of the channel reached out to us after the fact, apologising for breaking our rules and pledging not to promote violence in the future".

Of these newer services, the most popular in Iran is Telegram, an instant messaging service that offers encrypted secret chats and channels, where people discuss news and current events.

Iran's two main internet and communications service providers are the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) and Irancell.

"Telegram will face increasing pressure over time to collaborate with the Iranian government's demands for this or that", Snowden wrote on Twitter.

But the activists, many of them students, found a technological loophole to stay connected and spread their message using the peer-to-peer "mesh messaging" app FireChat.

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The Iranian government's anxiety over the widespread protests that have roiled the country for the past week may be best shown by one action: the government's decision to censor Telegram, the most popular foreign messaging app still being used by average Iranians.

The youngest minister in nearly four decades of theocracy in Iran, Azari Jahromi had accused AMADnews of fomenting violence.

Telegram's decision drew criticism from free internet advocates and Iranians. "This suggests that workarounds for Iran's internet filters have become a way of life for many mobile and desktop internet users". Mainstream news sites and other information sources are blocked in the country. Should Telegram shut one Iranian channel down to preserve access to all the others?

Sanctions have also forced many Iranians to use smartphones and applications that have been jailbroken, a term used when a manufacturer's restrictions are removed to allow a user to install unauthorized software.

"Iran's own strict regime of internet filters, but also USA sanctions limiting the transfer and sale of technology and security products, are likely contributing factors that mean the choke points are still an effective mechanism for mass control", Toker said. Telegram was reported to have moved some of its servers in the country although the company denied the claims.

"We are proud that Telegram is used by thousands of massive opposition channels all over the world". It's very hard for social media platforms and messaging apps to operate under tight regulations in Iran.

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