According to Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, the country is working on creating local social media platforms for domestic use. Iran’s government is also issuing new regulations for the foreign social media platforms that want to offer their services to Iranian users.
Tasnim News reported that Abolhassan Firouzabadi, Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace has announced that the country is setting guidelines for the activities of social media platforms. These guidelines include religious, ethical and legal requirements according to Firouzabadi. “Most social networks are [operating from] outside of our country and that is one of the reasons that they are not that much committed to the domestic requirements,” said the Secretary of the council. Mr. Firouzabadi is probably referring to an incident from a few months ago where the Iranian Ministry of Communications had asked Telegram to remove its unethical content in order for it to not get banned in Iran. Telegram then blocked some of the channels on the app, but after some time they got unblocked again.
Some of the Iranian officials such as Iran’s chief of Cyber Police had stated that Telegram should move its servers inside the country to store the data of Iranian users. These requests were not accepted by Telegram because of the sanctions that are still ongoing. About 40% of Iran’s international bandwidth is used by Telegram, according to Reza Taghipour, a member of Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace.
Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace has approved a new rule in which Iranian social media platforms are obligated to store their data in the country by next year. The Council is also in talks with the private sector to set up a consortium for social networks. “Negotiations with domestic operators for the purpose of encouraging them to create local social networks continues,” said Firouzabadi. He also hoped that if the negotiations go well, 3 local social media platforms would be created that could eventually have the ability to attract over 10 million users.
President Rouhani had also emphasized on creating local social media platforms in a recent speech, saying that it shouldn’t be in a way that people would trust foreign messaging apps more than the local ones. There are already many successful Iranian social media apps which you can find out about some of them here.