The strange tale of Iran’s short stint in blocking Instagram, hints of possible full ban

Iran flag

Iran isn’t exactly a bastion of open communication. During the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranians dealt with intense censorship as the government sought to keep its citizens in line. In 2012, the government even created something called the Supreme Council of Cyberspace specifically to enforce strict censorship, using a “FilterNet” to curb citizens’ access to information, blocking nearly half of the Internet’s most popular websites. This didn’t stop citizens from circumventing these filters, as they used Twitter and other social media to fuel protests about Ahmadinejad’s election. 

Current president Hassan Rouhani appears as a more Internet-friendly leader, since he has a Twitter account. Here he is reaching out to the Pope on Christmas: 

But Rouhani’s Twitter is little more than a publicity stunt, and it’s certainly not an indication that he’s ushering in an era of more digital freedoms. Iran continues to block the micro-blogging service for its citizens. Facebook is also blocked, so Iranians using Facebook and Twitter do so through an illicit proxy. And Iran ramped up its censorship efforts last week by blocking WeChat, a popular private messaging app. 

Instagram, however, went unblocked…until yesterday. Mashable reports users began complaining about the outage on Twitter, and an independent technology researcher named Colin Anderson confirmed that the site was inaccessible to Iranians. 

Twelve hours later, the site was back up and running for Iranians as if nothing had ever happened, and the government denied any involvement with the outage. But Anderson and other researchers believe it was the government’s doing. “I’m sure for one thing that it was not simple incident,” Internet freedom researcher Amin Sabeti told Mashable. “I’m sure all people who have responsibility for the filtering know it … I believe they tried to block it permanently.”

The question is, why didn’t they block Instagram permanently? Could full restriction to the site be imminent?


Google Maps adds a new tab showing restaurants’ most popular dishes

Google Maps is testing a new Popular tab for restaurants to make it easier to order a tasty-looking dish you've spotted on the app. Some users are seeing it under the Menu tab, which already includes meal information for diners.
Social Media

Facebook F8 Developer Conference: Complete Coverage

When developers want to know what Facebook is working on, they head to F8. The annual two-day conference highlights the company’s latest technologies in development and is an opportunity to meet Facebook engineers. It’s also where CEO…
Social Media

Twitter: Now you can jazz up your retweets with GIFs, photos, and videos

Twitter for Android, iOS, and its mobile site now lets you add GIFs, photos, and videos to retweets. The feature, which the company said people have been asking for, can be enabled in a few quick taps.
Social Media

Tinder Lite will soon launch to bring the dating game into emerging markets

Tinder Lite, a lightweight version of the dating app, will soon launch in emerging markets where access to data may be limited. The app will look to bring more people into the dating game, as Tinder looks to maintain its growth.
Social Media

Update WhatsApp! Sophisticated attack installs spyware with just a call

A WhatsApp vulnerability left Android and iOS devices open to attack from sophisticated surveillance software that could be installed simply by calling the targeted person through the app.
Social Media

Twitter sorry for mistakenly storing and sharing some users’ location data

Twitter has revealed that a bug led to it accidentally storing and sharing location data for a number of iOS users. The issue, which has now been fixed, affected those operating more than one Twitter account from the app.

Photographer sues Ariana Grande after she posts his images of her on Instagram

A professional photographer is suing Ariana Grande after she posted photos on Instagram that he'd taken of her. Grande used the post to promote one of her albums, but the photographer says she used the photos without permission.
Social Media

Save me: How to download Instagram photos from any device

Browsing photos in Instagram is one thing, but saving them is another. Until recently, it wasn't easy to get your pics and data off the 'gram and saved elsewhere, but now you can download Instagram photos with just a few clicks.
Social Media

Instagram ditches plans for stand-alone Direct messaging app

Instagram is shuttering it's stand-alone messaging app, Direct, after testing it since 2017. While the messaging features remain intact inside Instagram, the separate app will be discontinued in the next few weeks.
Social Media

6 easy ways to archive all of your favorite Instagram videos

Saving Instagram videos should be just as easy as taking a screenshot. So, we've put together a list of the best apps and tools that save your favorite Instagram videos onto your phone or computer.
Social Media

Instagram’s new Explore grid tempts you to open your wallet

Instagram has made some changes to its Explore tab that might tempt you into the occasional shopping spree. It's also planning to add Stories to the grid, mixing them up with the existing photos and videos.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.
Social Media

A fond farewell to Grumpy Cat, the internet’s most famous feline

The worst day ever. We say farewell and offer a fond remembrance for Grumpy Cat, the internet's most famous frowning feline, meme and a genuine sweetheart, who died at the age of seven. Exceptionally even tempered and tolerant, Grumpy Cat…

Treat yo' selfie with one of these 13 apps made to beautify your pics

Selfies might be a phenomenon second only to karaoke, but they're not the easiest thing in the world to create. Thankfully, these awesome selfie apps for Android and iOS will make beautifying your self-portraits easier than capturing them.