The current wave of protests convulsing Iran, fueled by economic anxiety and outrage at the government’s repressive policies, are taking place in a very different country than the previous round of widespread protests in 2009. Back then, less than a million people had smartphones and most of them were concentrated in Tehran. Today, at least 48 million people have them, reports Tech Rasa, enabling so many more citizens to capture the action in the streets with their videocameras.
Yet Iran’s protesters might have a harder time sharing their videos and coordinating actions. Authorities are temporarily blocking Telegram and Instagram to “maintain peace,” according to the AP. The country’s information technology minister, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, even tweeted directly at Telegram founder Pavel Durov, claiming one of its channels “is encouraging hateful conduct, use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprisings, and social unrest,” reports TechCrunch. In a post, Durov later said that Telegram had suspended that particular channel, @amadnews, because it violated the platform’s terms of service since it recommended the use of Molotov cocktails and weapons against police. But Durov says he refused to take down other peaceful channels.
Last year, Durov said that Telegram has more than 40 million monthly active users in Iran. It’s not clear how many Instagram users there are in the country.
Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down https://t.co/9E4kXZYcP9 and other peacefully protesting channels.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) December 31, 2017