Iran steps toward blocking Instagram Amid Social Media Crackdown

Authorities in Iran are preparing to block access to Instagram, extending their crackdown on social media to the last major social media service officially available. The move would deny 24 million users access to the popular social-media platform.

Secretary of Iran’s state committee on online censorship and deputy state prosecutor in charge of cyber affairs, Javad was quoted by Iranian media on January 1 as telling Peyvast magazine that “While judicial and political officials involved were yet to reach a consensus on barring the site, the prosecutor can take a unilateral decision to do so.”

Javid Javidnia declared that the reason behind the court’s decision was that Iran’s traffic to Instagram had surpassed the limit set by the Supreme Council of Virtual Space.

“According to Supreme Council of Virtual Space, the government had to issue a permit for this social media to be active in the country, and a permit has not been issued,” he said.

“Instagram was filtered once before and the last government said that they could control this space with smart filtering but unfortunately, high costs were incurred without any results. Now we have an order to filter this service with a majority of Virtual Space Supreme Council members in favor of the filter,” he added.

It is unclear when Iran’s ban is due to go into effect. The country curbed access to some internet services, including intermittently restricting Instagram, in January 2018, a move that Donald Trump criticised at the time.

The time authorities claimed that the move was aimed at maintaining peace during the protests, which spread to more than 80 cities and towns.

In May, Iran filtered Telegram, claiming the communications tool endangered national security.

Many Iranians continue to access the services despite the bans, circumventing the technical blocks by routing traffic through an overseas internet address.

The block comes as Iran has increasingly been blamed for attempts to use social media to disrupt politics in the UK and the US. In August, Facebook, which owns Instagram, deleted hundreds of accounts on both services that were linked to Iranian state media.

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