Facebook, Twitter blocked in Iran again after 'glitch' had lifted filters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 5:02am

The joy of Iran's Facebook and Twitter fans was short-lived as authorities yesterday restored blocks on social networks after filters were lifted for several hours overnight.

The brief access was a "technical glitch" that was quickly rectified, according to communications official Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, from the board overseeing internet access in Iran.

But it could also point to increasing internal struggles between groups seeking to reopen Facebook and other social networking sites, and hardliners in the Iranian establishment who remain firmly in control of internet access.

Many Facebook and Twitter users in the capital, Tehran, and other Iranian cities assumed the surprise internet freedoms were the result of policies by newly elected President Hassan Rowhani, who has pledged more outreach to the West and a new openness in Iran.

Scores of Facebook users posted notes of "Rowhani, Mochakerim" - Farsi for "Thank you, Rowhani".

"God liberated Facebook," wrote Mohammad Reza on his Facebook, adding that it was his happiest time ever.

The postings quickly stopped when reality struck and the sites were no longer available, forcing Iranian internet users to again have to go through proxy servers for access.

The semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Khoramabadi as saying that board members were unclear as to what had caused the "technical failure regarding some internet service providers". He warned of unspecified measures if it turns out to have been an international move against Iran.

Iran has blocked social networks after they were widely used by opposition supporters during protests after the disputed 2009 re-election of Rowhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.