Twitter and Facebook blocked again in Iran after short-lived respite

But social media followers had their brief access removed this morning

Heather Saul
Tuesday 17 September 2013 17:24
Iranian authorities have restored blocks on Facebook and Twitter after a "technical glitch" briefly removed filters from the social networks overnight.
Iranian authorities have restored blocks on Facebook and Twitter after a "technical glitch" briefly removed filters from the social networks overnight.

The joy felt by Iranian Facebook and Twitter fans was short-lived as authorities restored blocks on social networks after filters were lifted for several hours overnight.

Many Facebook and Twitter followers in Tehran and other Iranian cities assumed the unexpected Internet freedom that occurred late on Monday came as a result of new policies by newly elected President Hasan Rouhani, who has pledged more outreach to the West and a new openness in Iran.

Scores of Facebook users posted notes of "Rouhani, Mochakerim," which is Farsi for "Thank you, Rouhani."

"God liberated Facebook," wrote Mohammad Reza on his Facebook, adding that it was his happiest time ever.

Instead, the brief access was a "technical glitch" and was quickly rectified, according to communications official Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, a member of the board overseeing Internet in Iran.

But it could also point to increasing internal struggles between groups seeking to reopen Facebook and other social networking sites, and hard-liners in the Iranian establishment, who remain firmly in control of Internet access.

The postings quickly subdued when social media followers were refused access on Tuesday morning, forcing Iranian Internet users to have to go through proxy servers for access again.

Iran has blocked Facebook, Twitter and other social networks after they were widely used by opposition supporters during mass street protests following the disputed 2009 re-election of Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Several members of Rouhani's Cabinet now have their own Facebook pages but there are internal tensions among Iran's leadership over whether the Internet is ultimately a force to be expanded or best kept tightly controlled.

The semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Khoramabadi, the communications official, as saying that board members were unclear as to what had caused the "technical failure regarding some Internet service providers." He warned of unspecified measures if it turns out to have been an international move against Iran.

"We will take action if there was a human flaw," said Khoramabadi. "We are probing it."

Disputes have now developed across Web-based Iranian news sites over the authenticity of some of the Facebook pages linked to some ministers.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments