Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Facebook and Censorship in Iran

In Chapter 1, Levinson briefly discusses how new new media has been controlled and censored by different forms of government and political systems. I was subject to such censorship during one of my trips to Iran. In the summer of 2008, I traveled to Iran to visit my family. During my stay, I was able to access my e-mail account but I was restricted from Facebook. I tried using a number of proxies to try and access the site. One proxy actually worked, but it too was restricted a few days later. Iran remains one of the strictest enforcers of censorship of the Internet. Many websites are blocked for being considered immoral and for containing words that are seen as anti-Islamic.

However, Facebook has quickly become an increasingly popular social networking site in Iran. Other forms of social media including YouTube, Twitter, and blogging also gained popularity especially during the last presidential election in Iran. Reformist activists used these sites to gain support against the regime. Female activists and students used different forms of social networking to promote human rights and organize political meetings on the Internet. On May 23, 2009, Facebook was blocked in Iran. However, it was unblocked just three days later because Iranian users protested the censorship enforced by the regime just prior to the elections. The users’ reactions to the attempted censorship of the new new media reinforces Levinson’s idea that “the reader has total control” (Levinson, 1). The Iranian users protested against the censorship as an attempt to maintain the freedom of speech that such networking sites enabled them to exercise. The following article discusses this issue in Iran in more depth: http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/email/the-politics-of-facebook-in-iran

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points, and certainly new media have contributed to the political tensions in that nation. Twitter has played a major role, and back when the protests were heating up, many people colored their profile pictures green as a sign of solidarity, and changed their location to Tehran in an attempt to confuse the sensors and security. Blogs are also big there.