A judge in the southern region of Iran is demanding that Mark Zuckerberg, Internet entrepreneur, philanthropist, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, report to Iran to face complaints that Zuckerberg’s Instagram and Whatsapp apps “are violations of citizens’ privacies,” according to a May 27 report from The Washington Post. In addition to issuing the summons for Zuckerberg to appear before the Iranian court system, the same judge also reportedly ordered that Instagram and Whatsapp be blocked in Iran.
As Iran has no extradition agreement in place with the U.S., we don’t see Zuckerberg hopping a plane to appear before an Iranian judge anytime soon. Facebook is already blocked in Iran, as are Twitter and YouTube.
This is the second Iranian court to order the blocking of Instagram over privacy concerns, according to Politico. Internet users in the Iranian capital of Tehran could still reportedly access Instagram as of noon today. Politico noted that many of the social media applications that have reportedly been blocked are still sometimes accessible. And even though most social media venues are blocked, “some senior leaders like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are active on Twitter.”
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.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, viewed as politically moderate, came to the defense of social media in his country and went on record as opposing the blocking of social media Internet sites like Facebook – suggesting that Iran first look into creating their own local and regional alternatives. Rouhani credits the existence of social media for his and his administration’s ability to reach out to the West.
"We should see the cyber world as an opportunity," Rouhani said last week, according to the official IRNA news agency. "Why are we so shaky? Why don't we trust our youth?"
Those in Iran supportive of the blocking of Facebook, Instagram and other social media websites have accused the Iranian president with “failing to stop the spread of what they deem as ‘decadent’ Western culture in Iran.” For a different take on Iran banning Facebook, see the video accompanying this article.