Authorities in Iran announced on Wednesday that they would ban photo sharing app Instagram, citing national security concerns, The Telegraph reports.
Iran’s National Cyberspace Council said it approved steps to block Instagram following crackdowns on other social media apps.
Instagram is the last major social media service officially available in Iran. It is unclear when the ban will go into effect, according to The Telegraph.
Iran is notorious for the limitations it imposes on freedom of expression. The country blocks access to numerous websites, including Facebook and Twitter, in order to stop Iranians from browsing content it considers immoral, or as undermining the regime.
Last April, Iran’s judiciary blocked voice calls on Telegram, the most popular messaging app in the country, following the arrest of 12 people who ran popular reformist channels on the app.
The conservative-dominated judiciary at one time blocked the online navigation app Waze because it was designed in Israel, which Iran does not recognize. As of January 2018, however, reports said the app was once again working in Iran.
Many Iranians continue to access the services despite the bans, circumventing the technical blocks by routing traffic through an overseas internet address.
Ironically, noted The Telegraph, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has an active Instagram account which regularly sends out posts to an audience of more than two million followers.
Rouhani also has official Twitter accounts that tweet both in Persian and English. The country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is active on Twitter as well, as is Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Even Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has a Twitter account, having joined the social network in 2017 despite having acted to ban it while in office.