For years, services such as YouTube, Facebook, Blogger and Twitter have been blocked in Iran. Recently there has been the talk of unblocking two of the most used services, Blogger and YouTube in universities.
Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Deputy Minister of Communications and Technology stated that they have proposed to unblock YouTube and Blogger for universities. This means that the domains will only be accessible from inside the universities. He also added that the final decision is yet to be made by Jurisdictions and Authorities.
In Iran, a YouTube-like service called Aparat has been operating since 2011. Aparat is currently the biggest video sharing service in Iran and has been ranked as the fifth website in Iran by Alexa. Aparat has been launched by Saba Idea, a tech company that has also launched a fairly popular blog publishing website called Mihanblog which is similar to blogger. With a massive number of visitors, Aparat holds a monthly traffic of 15 million hours and over 6 million videos played every day. A huge share of video playbacks are from Aparat’s mobile app.
Azari Jahromi mentioned that it is necessary for such services to be unbanned in universities since they include a variety of useful content. For instance, Blogger, a widely used blog publishing service hosted by Google subdomain blogspot.com can serve universities as an encyclopedia.
Currently YouTube and Blogger are the only services proposed to be unbanned inside Iranian universities. When asked about Facebook and Twitter, Azari Jahromi answered that since the two services are not considered as crucial to universities we are not looking forward to unblocking them yet. According to Azari Jahromi, universities hold a share of 5% Internet usage in Iran and the aim of the proposed plan is to help universities and provide them access to useful content, and not to unblock particular services.
In the past years due to the censorship of services such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Blogger, Iranian websites like Mihanblog and Aparat have gained great momentum since there has been no serious competition in the area. Azari Jahromi has also stated that there might be a possibility of unblocking these services for the whole country. For now we have to wait and see what will happen to these companies if this proposed plan of unbanning leads to national unblocking rather than just inside the universities.