President Rouhani kept his promise to protect social media apps from a permanent ban. This happened while the decision for blocking Instagram and Telegram was made by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and not by Rouhani’s administration itself.
With the recent incidents in Iran, Telegram and Instagram got temporarily banned on December 31, by an order issued by the Supreme National Security Council to prevent violence promoted by a channel with a foreign origin in Telegram. Many western news outlets went on and said that this is a permanent ban while Instagram got unblocked on January 6 and Telegram on January 13. The decision for lifting the bans for these social media apps was again made by the Supreme National Security Council which consists of the President, speaker of the parliament, 5 appointed members by the Supreme Leader and 5 appointed members by the President.
Unlike the permanent ban on Twitter and Facebook in 2009, this time the ban of Telegram and Instagram was temporary. This decision indicates that most of the major powers (the members of the Council) in the country are persuading a new approach towards social media apps with Rouhani’s government is leading it.
The new approach towards social media apps started with Rouhani’s administration promising to keep them open and not block them permanently. Even Azari Jahromi, the Communication Minister, said on his Twitter that the ban on Telegram won’t be permanent while the western media pictured the opposite scenario for their audience.
In a recent Instagram post by Azari Jahromi, he wrote about the opportunities and the benefits of the social media apps in the day-to-day lives of Iranians; and even emphasized on the economic benefits these apps have for job creation in the country. Azari Jahromi even criticized the old-fashioned approach in the country which tends to block a service and promote a domestic equivalent without paying attention to all the requirements of such a service, such as a user privacy and freedom of speech. He mentioned that such an approach won’t succeed and it only keeps the country from acquiring new technologies.
According to the President, during the ban of Instagram and Telegram, 100 thousand jobs were affected. This fact indicates that social media apps and their usage are more of an economical subject for people, unlike the previous years.