Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei both have Instagram accounts, but they may not be able to use them for much longer. A court in Iran has ordered that access to Instagram be blocked across the country, after a private lawsuit was filed citing unspecified ‘privacy concerns’ around the photo-sharing social network.
Instagram is the latest high-profile site to be banned in Iran, with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube already on national blacklists. Earlier this month, WhatsApp was also barred there, with authorities apparently displeased with its new soon-to-be-owner Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg they referred to as an “American Zionist". Instagram, notably, is also part of Facebook’s portfolio.
However, official bans such as these seem to be enforced somewhat inconsistently. The Associated Press notes, for example, that the country’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is an active tweeter, despite the ban on Twitter. Private citizens often flout the bans too by using simple workarounds to continue to gain access to blocked sites.
President Rouhani, a moderate among many hard-liners in Iran’s political class, has spoken against such bans on numerous occasions. Last week, he told the IRNA news agency: “We should see the cyberworld as an opportunity. Why are we so shaky? Why don’t we trust our youth?”
So far, it appears that most users – in the capital, Tehran, at least – have not yet had their access to Instagram blocked, despite the court order being made days ago.