TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian court ordered that the photo-sharing app Instagram be blocked over privacy concerns, a semiofficial news agency reported Friday, the latest in a series of websites to be banned in the Islamic Republic.
The agency said a court order, stemming from a private lawsuit, had been given to Iran's Ministry of Telecommunications to ban the site. However, users in the capital, Tehran, still could access the application around noon Friday. Some previous reports in Iran of websites and Internet applications being blocked never materialized.
Officials with Instagram Inc. declined to comment Friday.
However, Instagram's owner Facebook is already banned in the country, along with other social websites like Twitter and YouTube. That's despite senior government leaders like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif being active on Twitter. There are even Instagram accounts in the names of moderate President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
While top officials have unfettered access to social media, Iran's youth and technological-savvy citizens use proxy servers or other workarounds to bypass the controls.
Social media has offered a new way for Rouhani and his administration to reach out to the West as it negotiates with world powers over the country's contested nuclear program. Rouhani himself has opposed blocking social network sites before authorities create local alternatives.
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