Internet Censorship in Iran

According to Rahimi and Gheytanchi in Politics of Facebook in Iran, “the Internet is viewed by the ruling clerics as potentially a dangerous domain, which requires harsh measures to control its content.” Although, it is not the content that is being controlled, it is the citizens of Iran. I can see how the Internet can be so scary and dangerous, with stories of a “saber-toothed cat in armor” that ate dinosaurs, visually offensive but fascinating galleries of Wal-mart shoppers, and heaven forbid multiple points of views on important issues! But all of these things are hidden inside a glass box. Maybe it is the assumption that consuming certain one dimensional data will have three dimensional thought and action.

I don’t think it is right to censor the Internet…there, I said it. Especially when it is, according to Yochai Benkler, what drives us to be more creative and explore our culture using a different medium than the past. By censoring the Internet you are effectively saying “don’t engage in understanding your culture.” There is so much ammunition for the “pro-Internet” side that it seems Iran is denying citizens their basic human right. In fact Finland just signed into law the right to have broadband Internet access because it’s that important!

But even with some leniency, Iran in February 2009 unblocked Facebook. Citizens viewed this step as “creating a false sense of open and fair elections, the intelligence services are able to monitor the activities of dissidents, who may feel more comfortable to express their views on Facebook as a social networking forum instead of a registered personal website which can easily [be] identified and targeted by the authorizes.” Yikes. Granting limited access is still being 100% under control or surveillance, allowing citizens to play puppeteer to the puppet master’s story.

As a comparison to this viewpoint of censorship, Elham Khatarri states in Facebook Brings Big Changes to Iran Politics, there are finding proving that Iranian citizens are still getting around this censorship and evolving into a media content creators. “The Internet and Facebook are changing other parts of Iranian life…the site has become a venue for greater socialization between men and women that often leads to dating, which is forbidden in Islam.” This divergence of what is considered cultural norm is very interesting because it shows a bend in the rules in the direction the citizens want to go naturally, versus politics and law.


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