Iran’s ministry of education on Sunday banned
the use of foreign social media networks in
schools, the ILNA news agency reported, amid
a push by Tehran to limit the influence of
outside online platforms.
Schools must “only use domestic social
networks” for their communication, the ministry
said in a statement, according to the reformist-
linked news agency.
Telegram is the most popular social network in
Iran. In 2017, the app claimed it had 40-million
monthly users in the Islamic Republic.
Instagram is also very popular, and companies
in Iran — like elsewhere — often use both
platforms to communicate directly with
Less used, Facebook and Twitter are blocked in
Iran, but easily accessible using a virtual
private network (VPN).
During a wave of protests that hit dozens of
Iranian cities over at the start of the year,
Iranian authorities temporarily banned
Telegram, accusing the app of allowing foreign-
based “counter-revolutionary” groups to fuel
Since then, authorities have sought to develop
Iranian social media networks and limit the
reliance on foreign-based platforms, which
Tehran accuses of hosting sites deemed hostile
to the Islamic Republic.
Several Iranian platforms offering services
similar to Telegram have emerged in recent
months, like the Soroush network, which
already claims to have five million subscribers.
According to the official IRNA news agency,
Telecommunication Minister Mohammad-Javad
Azari Jahromi recently pledged Iranian
networks would offer the same guarantees of
confidentiality as foreign platforms.
“No message is read, and no (personal)
information is communicated to anyone,” he
In a statement recently posted to his website,
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
said the government should guarantee the
“security and privacy” of people on the internet.
Khamenei called intrusions into online privacy
“haram”, or prohibited from a religious
Iranian media has appeared to encourage
people to join the new networks by assuring
viewers they will continue to operate even if
Telegram is again banned.