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?

Social Media

Instagram could be making a special type of account for influencers

Instagram influencers fall somewhere between a business profile and a typical Instagram, so the company is working on developing a type of account just for creators. The new account type would give creators more access to analytical data.
Social Media

#ThrowbackThursday is only the start: Instagram hashtags for every day of the week

Not getting your hashtag fill with #ThrowbackThursday or #ManCrushMonday? Here's a list of some of the more popular Instagram hashtags, so you can outfit your next post with the proper tag, regardless of what day it is.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Movies & TV

Ice meets fire in HBO's latest 'Game of Thrones' season 8 teaser

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Social Media

You can now share saved Facebook posts with a Pinterest-like collection tool

Facebook collections can now be shared with friends if you also want to allow them to contribute to the list. Facebook is rolling out an update that allows users to add a contributor to their collections, or lists of saved Facebook posts.
Mobile

Broadway actor tells Kanye West to get off his phone during opening night

Theater actors can get understandably upset when they spot someone in the audience fiddling with their phone instead of watching the show. The other night that audience member was Kanye West, and he got called out for it.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.