In the past weeks, Iranian authorities have warned users to migrate to local messaging apps as Telegram might soon get blocked in the country. While President Rouhani had mentioned that its government is against blocking internet services, it seems that they have reached to a point to actually take a different approach towards this app.
A few years ago maybe no one would have thought that Iranians would become this much dependent on their smartphones just because of a messaging app. Over 40 million Iranians in different ages and groups are using Telegram today for their daily communication, business and/or entertainment. Today, this amount of attachment and centralization of users to one specific app that does not obey the Iranian laws has alerted Iranian authorities to find a solution in order to scatter the crowd.
According to the Iranian ICT Minister, currently, 60 million smartphones in Iran are connected to the 3G Internet. Half of Iran’s 80 million population are under 30 years old and nearly 200 thousand people have turned to Telegram to make a living using content creation. Many Iranian Telegram channels and bots have brought considerable amount of revenue for their creators. But why would the Iranian authorities see this app as a threat to the security of the country while it has helped to reduce the unemployment rate?
1. Telegram has become a one-sided media
Iranian officials believe that instead of a simple messaging app, Telegram with its ‘channels feature’ has become a one-sided media. Instead of surfing the web, Iranians rather receive and spread the news via Telegram. A large group of Iranians using this app don’t even have or use an email for communication and might not even be that much aware of the other aspects of the World Wide Web. But Telegram has become an easy-to-use media for the majority of people.
2. Almost half of Iran’s internet bandwidth is used for Telegram
3. Telegram’s cryptocurrency could become a major economic challenge for Iran
A few months ago, when Telegram unveiled its plans for launching a blockchain, Telegram Open Network (TON), and Gram cryptocurrency, Iranian authorities became more alert of the impact of this messaging app on the country’s economy.
While Telegram has already raised $1.7 billion with its ICO, the company has said that the nations under the sanctions of the US, UK, European Union or United Nations, including Iran are not allowed to take part in its ICO.
Still, with Telegram’s penetration rate in Iran, the government sees TON as a threat to its economy. Economic experts believe that the participation of people on this network could cause inflation and the Iranian Rial could further lose its value.
Maybe blocking Telegram, could temporarily scatter users to other messaging apps. However, if the demand is not answered, users could again find a way to access this app. Some experts believe that if Telegram becomes a blockchain-based communication messenger, there would be no method of blocking Telegram.