Iranian authorities ban Facebook

Iranian authorities ban Facebook, fearing Obama-style online election campaign by reformists

The authorities in Iran have reportedly blocked access to Facebook following the launch of online presidential campaigns using the social networking site by reformist candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

 

Online media is a big deal in Iran, with the FT stating that 21 million of Iran’s 66 million population are online (and 47 million using mobiles). Iran has a lively blogosphere, with critics of the authorities finding a safe(ish) space online to voice their opinions. One report on the Global Voices site states that 1,000 bloggers have declared their support for Mousavi.

 

This certainly isn’t the first time that Iran has sought to crack down on freedom of expression online. Reporters Without Borders lists Iran as one of its “Internet Enemies” with one of the worst records for jailing bloggers. In the past the authorities have demanded that all websites discussing domestic matters be registered with the government and have blocked access to other major news sites that have carried articles critical of the government, including Deutsche Welle and Radio France International.

 Campaigners against the stoning and the execution of child offenders have launched online campaigns that have generated wide support. And Iran’s “Campaign for Equality” is attempting to gather one million signatures for a petition calling for an end to discrimination against Iran’s 35 million women and girls.  Sadly the response from the authorities has been to crack down on women’s rights activists, beating and detaining demonstrators. Amnesty is campaigning for the release of several Iranian women who have been detained just for the peaceful expression of their opinions. 

President Ahmedinejad has denied involvement in the blocking of Facebook, according to CNN, going on to say that he believes in ‘maximum freedom of expression’. Funny way of showing it…

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