Iran’s government has reportedly launched a campaign to block access to some websites, such as Google and Twitter, in an effort to prevent Iranians from accessing the internet.
Iran’s Information Ministry claims it has the right to block websites in the country, but the government has never officially confirmed such a policy.
Google, Twitter, and other foreign-funded websites were blocked in Iran for years, but in January 2016, the Iranian authorities announced they would block all internet access, including the internet itself, for six months.
Since then, however, the government appears to have been trying to find other ways to restrict internet access in the past few weeks.
Google’s official statement on the matter said, “We are committed to free speech in Iran, but we also understand the importance of protecting the integrity of the internet and other online services.”
Twitter, on the other hand, released a statement claiming that the government had “impeded access to social media platforms in Iran,” and that the decision was “based on the state of emergency that began last month and will last until June 30.”
Iran’s State TV has also released a series of statements in support of the new restrictions, claiming that “Iran is the third most visited country in the world on social media” after India and the United States.
Iranian social media users were reportedly not happy with the decision, as they claimed that it would “destroy” their online presence, which has been growing exponentially since 2015.
Some Twitter users, however the government’s statement also seems to have backfired: Iranians reacted by creating memes on social networks to highlight the government crackdown, including one that depicted Iranian government officials in a bikini with their arms crossed.