There are protestors all throughout the landscape in the country of Iran. They are making their voices heard on a variety of issues, not the least of which is their belief that it is not right that they have an authoritarian religious dictator leading the country. There have already been at least a dozen people killed as the protests stretch out for a sixth straight. Now, the New York Times is reporting that access to social media websites has been shut down in Iran.
A popular messaging app in Iran known as Telegram has been shut down to the public since December 31st. It is something that many of the protestors were using to stay in contact with one another and to organize their protests. The entire Internet itself has been going on and off in areas of Iran as well.
The authorities in the country have major access to the ability to manipulate media, including the Internet, in a variety of ways. They have pulled those strings on a number of occasions in order to try to calm down protests and silence the voices that participate in them in the first place.
All around the world, access to social media has helped to spark and keep alive protest movements. Without access to this critical electronic infrastructure, many of these types of movements fall apart.
The people or Iran have tried to protest against their leadership on more than one occasion, and they are frequently met with the same kind of counterattacks by those in power. It is very difficult to do everything that the protestors want to do when they live in a country that is so restricted in so many ways.
Interestingly, popular social media in other parts of the world such as Facebook and Twitter have been banned in Iran since 2009 when there was another uprising. However, even the President of Iran has managed to open himself a Facebook account. Many Iranian citizens also find ways around the ban to get themselves the kind of social media accounts that they really want.
An amazing fact about this particular movement is how it compares to the one in 2009. The 2009 movement had smartphones in the hands of just one million Iranians. Today, the number has reached 48 million. That is roughly half of the entire population of Iran, and that means that this revolution may have a lot more power to it.