Iran restricts access to Instagram amid intensifying protests

Iran on Wednesday (September 21) curbed access to WhatsApp and Instgram. The platforms are two of the last remaining social networks in the country. The move to curb access to social media platforms has been taken amid protests over death of a woman in police custody

Last week’s death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for “unsuitable attire”, has unleashed anger over issues including freedom in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions.

Internet watchdog NetBlocks reporte a “nation-scale loss of connectivity” on network providers in Iran. London-based NetBlocks said that WhatsApps server were disrupted on multiple internet providers just hours after Instagram was blocked.

The group’s data shows a near-total disruption to internet service in parts of Kurdistan province in west Iran since Monday, while the capital city of Tehran and other parts of the country have also faced disruptions since Friday when protests first broke out. 

Two residents in Tehran and southern Iran said they could only send text and not pictures on WhatsApp and that Instagram appeared to be completely blocked.

Internet access is often curbed in Iran to stop protesters to post videos on social media.

In 2019, the government shut down the internet for about a week to help stifle fuel protests which turned political, sparking the bloodiest crackdown in the 40-year history of the Islamic Republic.

Protests have been particularly intense in Kurdistan where Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has a history of suppressing unrest.    

(With inputs from agencies)

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