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Iran protests: Telegram under fire as Tehran clamps down

Iran protests: Telegram under fire as Tehran clamps down

Iranian officials have blocked a messaging app that's being used to organize anti-government protests which have rocked the country, resulting in more than 20 deaths and hundreds of arrests.

Iran has blocked messaging app Telegram and photo-sharing platform Instagram in the country.

Last year, Durov said that Telegram has more than 40 million monthly active users in Iran.

"Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down https://t.me/sedaiemardom and other peacefully protesting channels", Pavel Durov wrote on Twitter Sunday.Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down https://t.co/9E4kXZYcP9 and other peacefully protesting channels.

Iranian authorities have previously permitted Telegram because of the messaging service's use of local (closed) content delivery networks, a technical decision that has attracted both concern and calls for greater transparency from human rights advocates.

The Iranian minister made the remarks on Wednesday, touching upon the point that social networking applications and the Internet were abused by some pro-riot groups to promote anarchy and terrorist attacks across Iran.

Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran's Minister of Information and Communications Technology, publicly called out the channel for "encouraging hateful conduct, use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprising, and social unrest".

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Iran is not the only country to clamp down on social media in this way.

'I found that you crossed the red line, ' the cleric wrote, referring to comments the channel circulated about Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The most popular alternative among U.S. activists is Signal, which offers similar group chat features with more robust encryption - but Signal is blocked in Iran for an entirely different reason.

However, this surge in popularity has attracted the attention of the Iranian government.

Zam, who has said he fled Iran after being falsely accused of working with foreign intelligence services, denied inciting violence on Telegram.

What happens next could influence the future course of the largest protests Iran has seen since 2009. Authorities are temporarily blocking Telegram and Instagram to "maintain peace", according to the AP.

During Hong Kong's 2014 Umbrella Revolution, where thousands of people demonstrated for universal suffrage over 79 days, Beijing moved swiftly to quash all reports of dissent from the former British colony. Since there is a lot of Government influence on the traditional media, the social media has been very popular in the country. In countries where they are otherwise banned, messaging apps that encrypt conversations often use the Google App Engine to hide their activity within Google's traffic.