The Telegram messaging app, by far the most popular messaging service in Iran, has closed an anti-Iran channel at the request of an Iranian official.
Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi reacted to the activities of Amad News, a Telegram channel which has been encouraging acts of violence.
Durov, in turn, responded to Azari Jahromi’s tweet: “Calls for violence are prohibited by the Telegram rules. If confirmed, we’ll have to block such a channel, regardless of its size and political affiliation,” wrote the director on his Twitter page.
@Durov: A Telegram channel is encouraging hateful conduct, use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprising, and social unrest. NOW is the time to stop such encouragements via Telegram.
— MJ Azari Jahromi (@azarijahromi) December 30, 2017
Calls for violence are prohibited by the Telegram rules. If confirmed, we'll have to block such a channel, regardless of its size and political affiliation.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) December 30, 2017
Later on Saturday, Telegram closed the Amad News channel, with over 1.3 million followers.
Jahromi vs Durov: This is not the first time that Jahromi and Durov have butted heads. Back in October Jahromi vowed to block “anti-revolutionary channels” on Telegram after Amad News channel reported that a state official’s daughter was arrested for spying.
Prosecutors in Tehran proceeded to file charges against Durov on the grounds of Telegram spreading extremist propaganda, child pornography and delivering uncensored news.
The rules of @telegram prohibit calls for violence and hate speech. We rely on our users to report public content that violates this rule.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) October 8, 2017
Why this matters: Telegram is a major platform for information in Iran and counts more than 40 million users among the country’s 80 million people. According to one recent study, 6 out of 10 Iranians are members of the app. In an effort to quell the protests, Iranian authorities may clamp down access to Telegram and other social media sites that Iranians use to stay informed, share information and organize.
Update 12:50 PST: According to the BBC, there are numerous reports of people losing internet access on their mobile phones.