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After Facebook’s Takeover of WhatsApp, Did Iran Really Ban the Popular Messaging App?

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Facebook acquires WhatsApp

The country?s Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content has banned WhatsApp, a widely used messaging application that is recently acquired by Facebook for $ 19 billion. It is a sensational topic in the internet recently as reports claim that the reason behind the censorship is because the messaging app?s new parent company, Facebook, is owned by Mark Zuckerberg. The social media giant?s owner has a Jewish or Zionist background, but presently identifies himself as an atheist. This is supported by a similar statement reportedly given by the said Committee?s head, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi. There is a long-standing and assumed anti-Zionism belief being practiced in Iran, but that is not recognized officially.

However, Iran?s president Hassan Rouhani has vetoed the proposal to ban WhatsApp. He did this in his capacity as the Head of the country?s Supreme Council of Virtual Space. This move is seen as in agreement with the newly elected president?s pledge of delivering change, and with it, a higher level of internet freedom for his people.

The president even confirmed that an account operating under his name in the micro-blogging site Twitter is managed by people in his public relations team. That account recently posted a tweet saying that the government is opposed to the censorship of WhatsApp. Twitter, along with Facebook and video-sharing site YouTube are all banned in Iran since 2009. This ban has been implemented when the authorities tried to prevent public dissent following protests against the previous disputed presidential elections.

Another angle being seen as the reason behind the restriction of WhatsApp is that Iran?s National Telecommunications Company is reportedly losing revenue. By using WhatsApp and other internet-based mobile messaging applications, most of the company?s subscribers are saying that they are able to reduce their monthly bill to approximately one third.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that there is some sort of power struggle in the Islamic nation?s bureaucracy over internet freedom. The president and most of his cabinet members are apparently standing up to their vow of bringing change following his victory in the 2013 election. Moreover, despite disagreements from conservatives and hardliners, both Mr. Rouhani and some of his cabinet members have used social networking sites that are banned officially to express their disapproval to some of their own government?s implementing agencies.

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