Despite Telegram being banned and blocked by the Iranian government, statistics show that users are coming back to this platform using VPN services to circumvent the block. Meanwhile, Iran’s Deputy Attorney General has asserted that any sort of business activity on Telegram is a crime.
After many debates, Telegram messaging app was blocked in Iran on May 1st, 2018, following the order of the country’s judiciary. While official statistics show that the activity of Iranian users on Telegram was dropped during the first week of the ban, view counts of Telegram channels’ posts show that users are again coming back to this platform using VPN services.
A few days ago the Iranian ICT Minister published an Instagram story (shown above) indicating the Iranian viewers’ statistics on Telegram channels. The first drop on the chart shows the migration of some of the channels to other messaging apps, the second drop is for the period when the national ban was initiated and the third drop is when Iranian ISPs also started to block the service. After the spread of VPN services and customized versions of Telegram, users are coming back to this platform as the chart shows.
Although Azari Jahromi, the Iranian Minister had previously asserted that the Government is against blocking Telegram, he later stated that blocking VPN services were done with their order. He emphasized that this decision was made since many of the free VPN services that are being spread around the country are malware and could potentially be a threat to the users’ data privacy.
“Since the day Telegram was banned, only 6.5 million out of the 45 million Iranian users have migrated from this app,” said Azari Jahromi, the Iranian ICT Minister.
While many experts believe that the ban could not stop users from accessing the blocked services, Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, the Deputy Attorney General of Iran, and the head of the “Commission to Determine the Instances of Criminal Content” has stated that business activities on Telegram are a crime and the unions and internet businesses should migrate to local messaging apps, according to ITmen.
Currently, many of the professional content creators on Telegram have been able to gain tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of subscribers for their channels and many offline and online businesses use this medium for their advertisements. An estimated amount of 500 thousand jobs in the country are dependent on the cyberspace and foreign platforms such as Telegram, according to a member of the Iranian parliament.