Telegram suspends channel calling for violent protests against Iran govt

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It's not clear how many Instagram users there are in the country. Back in October Jahromi vowed to block "anti-revolutionary channels" on Telegram after Amad News channel reported that a state official's daughter was arrested for spying.

Several Iranian cities have been the scene of anti-government street protests in recent days.

Earlier on Sunday, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov tweeted that Iranian authorities were blocking access to the popular messaging app "after our public refusal to shut down... peacefully protesting channels". "Isn't it time to stop promoting violence?" said the minister addressing the Telegram founder Pavel Durov. "Iranians use it to sell clothes or find doctors, she added".

The government also banned Instagram, although government representatives insist both bans are temporary and will be lifted once protests subside. Durov noted that there was evidence to suggest that the channel was calling on protesters to use Molotov cocktails against the police.

Durov promised to investigate the case, and within hours suspended the "amadnews" channel, saying that it violated the "no calls for violence rule". "As a result, they have been able to reassemble most of their subscribers (800,000) in a new peaceful channel, which we welcomed", said Durov.

Many observers have also taken to Twitter - another officially blocked social platform - to try to make sense of the protests, which have been unprecedented in terms of their geographical spread since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Iran is not the only country to clamp down on social media in this way. The messaging app has a massive user base there.

"Iran's own strict regime of internet filters, but also US sanctions limiting the transfer and sale of technology and security products, are likely contributing factors that mean the choke points are still an effective mechanism for mass control", Toker said.

In the past, some Iranians have found ways to get around government restrictions by using tools that evaded Iran's censorship technology. "This suggests that workarounds for Iran's internet filters have become a way of life for many mobile and desktop internet users".

More importantly, they subscribe to public channels to get the news that is not available on state media.

"Google has chosen to adhere to the strictest letter of the law regarding sanctions in Iran, and by doing so they are blocking Iranians from this service", Mr. Anderson said.

The Chinese government, which maintains strict controls over the internet and social media, blocked mainland access to Instagram and posts related to the demonstrations on popular Chinese messaging sites like Weibo and Wechat. So far, Telegram has walked the line very well but with increasing unrest in the country, it is likely that a permanent censorship could come sooner than we think.