Iran, which has made headlines in the past for banning certain social media platforms, is facing criticism again for a decision that may leave many citizens angered. While Facebook and Twitter have been banned in the country since 2009, other social media platforms and messaging services have escaped the iron curtain, but it looks like the Facebook-owned WhatsApp may be the next to get axed.
Based on a new report, Iran's "Committee on Internet Crimes" has put a sudden ban on the messaging application known as WhatsApp. The committee is basing their decision on the fact that WhatsApp is now owned by Facebook, or more accurately, Mark Zuckerberg. They've labeled Zuckerberg as an "American zionist," whose background is Jewish, and therefore believe it falls into their "anti-zionism" movement.
The move comes as sort of a shock, as even the more progressive government ministers in the country have said they are against the ban of WhatsApp.
"#Iran Communications Minister: Government of #Prudence & #Hope fully opposed to filtering of WhatsApp," a tweet from MeetIran said.
Additionally, President Hassan Rouhani tweeted, "As I have told @camanpour, my efforts are geared to ensure my ppl will comfortably be able to access all info globally, as is their #right."
As per the blogger who wished to remain unidentified, "The Revolutionary Guard sees these social sites as a major threat because there's an appeal for young people and the government worries about the exchange of information."
As it stands, there is no evidence as of now that there has been a ban enacted on WhatsApp, nor that any kind of filtering has been put in place. Iran's past is clouded in this type of action, though, as the country has officially banned both Facebook and Twitter since 2009, after the social media platforms were utilized by individuals and groups to organize mass protests against former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Further compounding the confusion of the committee's decision regarding WhatsApp, is the fact that the rival messaging app, WeChat, was also hit with a ban lately, and yet has no apparent ties to zionism, Israel or the Jewish.
In September of 2013, a brief technical failure resulted in the ability of regular Iranian citizens to use Facebook and Twitter again, but the services were quickly blocked the following day.