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Iran Launch War Against Social Media

What's The Real Story?

It seems that not everyone is in favour of a world heavily influenced by social media, and Iran in particular have taken actions to make sure that social media does not take a hold in their country. The Iranian leadership have now banned Instagram, and this was after they banned Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

social media and politics
Social: foreignpolicyblogs.com
Not surprisingly, Iran are very active on these and other social media platforms, and this is to spread their message across the globe, and let everyone know what their agenda is. A fine example of this was the famous phone call between US President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani. The call took place as Rouhani departed the United Nations following his appearance at the General Assembly. Following the conversation, which turned out to be the watershed for the US/Iranian dialogue, the entire content of the conversation was tweeted by none other than the Iranian President.

This type of behaviour online is pure politics and indoctrination. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Zarif, is very active online, particularly when he is in negotiations with the P5+1 on the nuclear issue when a deadline approaches. He manipulates the media and world opinion through his Twitter account, and this is the way that politics is heading. Of course, the words posted are under Zarif’s name, but it is his team who are typing the messages. Further to this, these messages are not meant for the citizens of Iran, but the rest of the world, as they are not legally allowed to view the content.

Despite the vigorous efforts by the Iranian government, they have not been able to effectively stop all citizens from using social media. Together with international hackers, they have been able to find ways around the ban.

social media and politics
Source: ieet.org

Just a few years ago, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, determined that the cyber world was so out of control in Iran that he created a special agency to combat cyber invasion. The agency’s job was to protect Iran from cyber attacks, and to halt the culture attacks that were infecting the Iranian youth. The agency recruited some of the most talented young people in Iran and now, two years down the line, Iran is a serious player in the hacking world.

Recently, the Iranian News Agency, IRNA, quoted the President saying “We should see the cyber world as an opportunity.”  He then said, “Why are we so shaky? Why don’t we trust our youth?” In the country, he is viewed as weak, and even viewed as a liberal Westerner by some. The statements were seen as a symbol of his failure.

Iran has a fascinating relationship with social media, and one that seems to be filled with both love and hate. It is a worrying prospect for many people that politicians are willing to use social media in order to indoctrinate and promote themselves, but not allow the general public to use it. This proves just how useful a tool social media is, as they want to utilise the positives but are scared of the consequences if the citizens get their hands on it.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Iran Launch War Against Social Media Reviewed by Alex Smith on Thursday, May 29, 2014 Rating: 5
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