Iran Temporarily Shut Down Instagram this Weekend, Then Denied it Ever Happened
#اینستاگرم فیلتر شد – #ایران #فیلترینگ #iran @ListenToUs @HassanRouhani pic.twitter.com/NnIDry4jsf
— Soheil Gonzalez (@soheilr7) December 28, 2013
In most countries around the world, it’s taken for granted that if you’d like to share a photo of your lunch or cat (even if, just maybe, you shouldn’t) Instagram is ready and able to help you accomplish your goal. Of course, that’s not true everywhere, as the people of Iran found out yesterday.
Much like North Korea, Iran has strict Internet censorship system. Theirs is known as “Filternet,” and according to Mashable, its most recent (albeit temporary) takedown was Instagram — although the government is now denying any takedown ever took place.
All of this happen early Sunday morning when, for about twelve hours, one of the most popular photo sharing sites in the world was blocked by the Iranian censorship system. The move was surprising in some senses and expected in others.
On the one hand, even Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has an Instagram, and the Iranian people use the service quite a bit. On the other, Facebook and Twitter are already blocked, so Instagram seems like a logical next step if the censorship was to expand.
#اینستاگرام من در ساعت ۳:۳۲ دقیقه، همچنان فیلتر… pic.twitter.com/R05XE9oXIJ
— Sam.Kia (@Sam1Kia) December 29, 2013
The blackout — which, it seems, affected most major ISPs, but not all — was reported by several trustworthy sources including Blocked in Iran and Independent Technology Researcher Collin Anderson, who spoke with Mashable about the incident. After running his tests, Anderson actually told Mashable that he was, “surprised [Instagram] lasted this long,” given the site’s size and popularity.
But then, interestingly enough, the site all of a sudden went live again and Iranian officials were widely quoted saying that there had been no censorship — a reaction activists are interpreting as the equivalent of being caught with your hand in the cookie jar and saying “it wasn’t me” as you slowly step away from the goods.
Whatever the case, the site is back up online. And while the government claims the takedown was accidental, activists who believe it was done intentionally and meant to be permanent are taking heart in the belief that public outcry, at least in this case, had a positive impact.