Earlier this month, Iranian authorities ordered a ban on WhatsApp. This week, they imposed similar restrictions on Instagram. Now, a judge in Iran has summoned Mark Zuckerberg - CEO of Facebook, which owns Instagram, and will soon own WhatsApp - to appear in court there to respond to allegations of privacy violations.
The move follows two complaints by individuals citing unspecified privacy concerns related to Instagram and WhatsApp. Iranian official Ruholla Momen-Nasab told state news agency INSA: "According to the court's ruling, the Zionist director of the company of Facebook, or his official attorney, must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses." This is not the first time that Iranian authorities have described Zuckerberg as a 'Zionist', in reference to his Jewish background.
As VICE News notes, Zuckerberg is unlikely to accept the court's invitation to attend, and there is no mechanism to actually enforce the summons unless he happens to visit the country, given the absence of any extradition agreements between Iran and the United States.
Despite the recent court-mandated ban on Instagram, it appears that no moves have yet been made to implement it. Other services, such as Twitter, are also officially barred from use in Iran, and yet even senior government figures continue to tweet, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and even the country's President Hassan Rouhani.
Update: Reuters is reporting that Iranian officials are denying that Zuckerberg was ever summoned to appear in court. State news agency IRNA is contradicting the earlier report of state news agency ISNA which had previously quoted an Iranian official, as detailed above. IRNA quotes Ali Alghasi-Mehr, Attorney-General of the Fars province, as saying: "Reports regarding the summoning of Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, by a court in Fars are completely false."
Between the conflicting reports from state news agencies, the contradictory statements of government officials, and the decision to impose bans on apps which aren't then enforced, needless to say, this is all somewhat confusing.