Iran Moves to Ban Instagram Amid Social Media Crackdown

January 2, 2019, 1:08 PM UTC

Authorities in Iran are preparing to block access to Instagram, extending their crackdown on social media to the only major platform still freely available.

The National Cyberspace Council approved steps toward blocking the service, Javad Javidnia, deputy for cyberspace affairs at the public prosecutor’s office, was cited as saying by the semi-official Donya-e Eqtesad newspaper. Instagram would join Twitter, Facebook (FB), YouTube (GOOGL), and Telegram in being banned in the Islamic Republic, ostensibly for reasons of national security.

Despite the restrictions, Iranians including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continue to use the services, which are widely accessible via proxy servers. Rouhani’s verified Twitter (TWTR) account has over 800,000 followers.

Javidnia said efforts to filter Instagram hadn’t worked. While judicial and political officials involved were yet to reach a consensus on barring the site, the prosecutor can take a unilateral decision to do so, he said.