In a country where half of the most popular social media platforms are blocked to its people, seeing the dazzling statistics of Iranian users in such networks may seem shocking.
Last month, on a televised speech, President Rouhani thanked the Iranian youth for supporting the Iran Deal on social media. He also added that he’s always been opposed to shutting down the social media networks, but they rather seek smart filtering plans.
A recent report conducted by Iran’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, shows that 67.4% of the Iranian youth use the internet. Of which 19.1 percent claimed they’re using internet for online chatting, 15.3 percent use it for social media networks, 15.2 percent use it for entertainment and games and 10.4 percent use it for research and studies.
69.3 percent of the Iranian youth use VPNs to bypass the filtering
According to Hasanzadeh, President of the Center for Research and Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Sport and Youth, only less than 5 percent of the youth use the internet for unethical content. He added that 12.3 percent use the internet to download videos and music.
According to the research 39 percent of the youth, use social media for entertainment and to escape from solitude. 22.3 percent stated that they use these services for communication and to share experiences.
Domestic Top Cats
When a number of popular social networks got blocked in Iran, local social networks started to emerge one by one to fill in the gap. Though these cloned versions have less shares in the market, thanks to the restrictions, they’re catching up with a fast pace.
A social media website with a name that resembles Facebook. Facenama is the 9th most popular website in Iran (819 globally) in terms of traffic. The website looks more like a discussion group rather than a social network like Facebook. Facenama got attacked by a group of hackers last year, exposing the database of its 2 million users. This incident happened right after they transferred their servers from Canada to Iran.
29th most popular website in Iran, in Alexa ranking. Though this website operates locally within the Iranian official laws, it got filtered two times since its launch in 2004. According to the latest statistics the website has more than 2.5 million users. Some of its features include community discussions clubs, photo sharing, weblog, job search and chat rooms. The website is owned by SabaIdea, a company which focuses mainly on making a local version of successful international rivals.
One of the most popular social platforms, especially amongst the Iranian youth. 6 years ago twitter reached the number 4 spot in Alexa ranking before it got banned. Right now the social media team behind President Rouhani’s twitter is pretty active. President Rouhani’s remarks are often live tweeted.
Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister also uses Twitter occasionally, especially in the past couple of months during the Iran Talks.
A study released in 2012 showed that 58% of Iranians use Facebook regularly despite the restrictions.
There are no exact number of Facebook users in Iran, due to its filtering. But according to Janati, Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, there are about 4 to 4.5 million active Facebook users in Iran by Feb 2015.
A few months ago there were some talks going on in the government to unblock Facebook, and to only censor certain content and pages.
Perhaps the most popular social media app in Iran, due to the fact that it’s exceptionally not blocked. However, “Intelligent filtering” has been implemented on it. Criminal and immoral content, and some pages are blocked on Instagram. Pages of celebrities are not accessible without VPN connections.
Also many shop owners and artisans use Instagram to sell their goods. They provide a Telegram id on their page so that the customers could order the products by text.
Only from CafeBazaar-most popular android market in Iran- Instagram has been installed on more than 8 million devices. Considering the 6 million active iPhones in Iran, claiming that there are at least 10 million Instagram users in Iran, would not be a wild guess.
Considering the amount of activities coming to these social networks from Iran despite the restrictions, maybe it’s time to reconsider how this immense potential could be put in good use.
How do you see the future of social media in emerging markets like Iran? Share it in the comments.