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Instagram temporarily blocked in Iran

The reports first surfaced around 1 a.m. Sunday local time (5 p.m. EST on Saturday), with several Iranian Internet users reporting having difficulty accessing Instagram on both their cellphones and computers. Four hours later, Colin Anderson, a technology researcher who focuses on Iran, confirmed the blockage. This was also confirmed by censorship-monitoring site Blockediranian.com.

“I’m surprised it lasted this long,” Anderson told Mashable. “Instagram was probably the largest unfiltered social media platform [in Iran]. But the security state has really ramped up its propaganda about social networks.”

Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, head of the Iranian Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content apparently said the government was blocking a page (or pages) of criminal content, and Iran’s state-run telecommunications company said that Instagram was not blocked, but activists aren’t convinced by the explanations.

“It wasn’t a mistake, something happened,” Anderson said. “A site has to be put on the list to be blocked, and it definitely was blocked.”

Another theory is that the government temporarily blocked the site to test the waters and see how citizens would react.

The news runs contrary to Iran President Hassan Rouhani’s earlier pledge to soften the country’s stance on web censorship.

Iran’s Internet censorship system is often referred to as the “Filternet.”

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