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Iran has banned Telegram after claiming the app encourages ‘armed uprisings’

Iran has banned Telegram after claiming the app encourages ‘armed uprisings’

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A picture of Telegram’s paper airplane logo surrounded by stencils of the logo.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Earlier this month, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country’s government entities would no longer be using messaging app Telegram, and now, Iran’s judiciary has banned its use altogether, as reported by Reuters.

The news comes on the heels of Russia’s own Telegram ban, enacted by blocking 15.8 million IP addresses on Amazon and Google’s cloud platforms and leading to large-scale “collateral damage.” As for how Iran will deal with its ban, the National Cyberspace Center withdrew Telegram’s license to operate in the country, and judiciary website Mizan quoted a court order saying, “All Internet providers in Iran must take steps to block Telegram’s website and app as of April 30.”

According to Reuters, Iranian officials have been trying to get Iranians to use domestic alternatives to Telegram, like Soroush. Although this app offers many of Telegram’s features, many remain wary of using domestic apps for fear of exposing themselves to spying. The Soroush app features its own set of emoji, which includes a set of women in traditional chador. One carries a sign that says “Death to America,” while another smiles with a framed portrait of Khamenei.

Iran temporarily banned Telegram and Instagram earlier this year during widespread anti-government protests. At the time, Iran state TV said authorities were temporarily blocking the services to “maintain peace,” while Iran’s ICT minister, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, claimed Telegram was complicit by “encouraging hateful conduct, use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprisings, and social unrest.”

Russian citizens, meanwhile, are protesting the ban in Moscow by throwing paper planes, a symbol on Telegram’s logo, during a rally to urge authorities to unlock the app.