Iran has moved to restrict social media networks that have been used to organise three days of anti-establishment protests.
The restrictions on messaging app Telegram and photo sharing app Instagram are “temporary”, state news agency Irib reported.
The decision was taken “to maintain tranquillity and security of society”, a source was quoted as saying.
The protests have been the biggest show of dissent since huge rallies in 2009.
They began in the north-east as an outcry against economic hardship and rising prices, but turned political in many places, with slogans chanted against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s interventionist foreign policy in the region.
After violence flared in many places on Saturday, it is unclear how many demonstrations are occurring on Sunday.
Why are these social networks being restricted?
In a tightly controlled media environment, much of the information about the demonstrations has emerged via social media, and platforms like Telegram and Instagram have been used extensively by protesters.
Telegram in particular is very popular in Iran, with more than 50% of the country’s 80m population said to be active on the app.
The company’s CEO Pavel Durov tweeted that Iranian authorities took action after his company refused to shut down “peacefully protesting channels”.
Mr Durov explained in a Telegram post that a major foreign-based opposition channel on the app, Amadnews, was blocked on Saturday by Telegram after it called for violence against police.
He said a new “peaceful channel” – access to which is now being restricted – was set up for hundreds of thousands of their subscribers.
Iranian Communications Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi had earlier accused channels like Amadnews of promoting “armed uprising and social unrest”, including the use of petrol bombs. BBC