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Middle East

Iran court 'orders Instagram blocked'

Reports say a court has banned the use of popular photo-sharing service over privacy concerns.

Last updated: 23 May 2014 13:38
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Several social media sites including Facebook and YouTube are already banned in Iran [Reuters]

A semi-official news agency in Iran is reporting that a court has ordered that the photo-sharing service Instagram be blocked over privacy concerns, the latest in a series of websites to be banned in the country.

According to the agency, a court order stemming from a private lawsuit had been given to Iran's Ministry of Telecommunications to ban the site. However, users in Tehran still could access the application around Friday noon, according to the AP news agency.

Despite senior government leaders like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif being active on Twitter, the social website along with others like Facebook and YouTube are already banned in the country.

There are even Instagram accounts in the names of President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Social media has offered a new way for Rouhani and his administration to reach out to the West as it negotiates with world powers over the country's contested nuclear programme.

Rouhani himself has opposed blocking social network sites before authorities create local alternatives.

"We should see the cyberworld as an opportunity," Rouhani said last week, according to the official IRNA news agency. "Why are we so shaky? Why don't we trust our youth?"

Earlier this week, police detained six young Iranians after they posted online a video showing them dancing to the Pharrell Williams' song "Happy." They were later freed.

In 2012, Khamenei ordered the creation of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, tasked with preventing harm to Iranians who go online, in order to fight what he called a "culture invasion" aimed at undermining the country.

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