Social Media sites are not doing so well thus far in 2019 and it seems governments will keep piling on to their misery. The Iranian Nation Cyberspace Council approved a move to block Instagram because they believe the platform has obscene and immoral content. The country already banned Twitter (as far back as 2009), Facebook (2009 as well), and YouTube thus Instagram was the last site standing among the social media giants.
The president of Iran has a quite the presence on the platform and he used to send out updates via Instagram on the immoral platform but that won’t be available to citizens anymore. Reports state that though authorities site moral purity being the motivator behind the move, the reality is that social media is used to spread anti-government messages. The Iranian officials who maintain a social media presence don’t justify why they keep using these platforms whilst the public is discouraged from using them.
Is the block effective?
Similar to what happened in Zimbabwe, the longer social media remained blocked the more people found alternative ways to access the sites. Similarly, Iranians are finding their way around these blocks and though ISPs have blocked the sites citizens end up there by using VPNs and Proxy Servers.
Huge blow to Instagram?
Well, Telegram is reportedly by around 40 million in the country and a block will no doubt have some effect. Though many people will obviously go around the ban but there will also be some people who abandon the application entirely but it probably won’t be too much of a big deal. Just as people started using VPNs to access all their favourite sites when our internet was shut down a week ago, the Iranians will do the same and one University student interviewed by Asia Times agreed and also noted that there is no other option:
I don’t think banning Instagram will remarkably reduce the number of its users, because after all, we don’t have a better platform to use as an alternative