Iran makes accessing Facebook a crime

Image Credit: Shuterstock

The hardline mullahs calling the shots in Iran have made accessing Facebook a crime and anybody caught logging onto the site faces a serious prison sentence if caught, VentureBeat has learned.

The Iranian government has previously banned major online outfits like Facebook, Twitter, and Google in order to stifle debate about the regime. In 2009, Facebook use was banned amid a turbulent election.

Sources inside Tehran and Iranian activists based in the U.S. told VentureBeat that making Facebook use a crime shows the desperation and brutality of a regime reeling from economic sanctions and global criticism for supporting the Syrian dictator Basher Al Assad, among other factors.


READ MORE: Family of jailed Facebook user in Iran: ‘They are going to kill her 


“It’s now illegal to visit Facebook,” said Saghar Kasraie, an activist based in Virginia.

Kasraie said Iranians rely on Facebook to keep in touch with family members and friends both in the country and outside. Users are able to get around the blockage of Facebook by using proxy servers, portable hotspots connected to cell phones, and Turkey-based ISP’s.

Despite outlawing social media, Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani, who came to power vowing reforms, uses Facebook and in particular Twitter, as do numerous high-ranking Iranian politicians, military, and intelligence officials.

“Rouhani and his people all have Facebook and Twitter accounts,” Kasraie said. “Many Iranians also use Facebook, but not with their real names.”

In addition to Facebook, many Iranians inside the country use Skype, Tango, and Viber to keep the conversation going and for the exchange of information about what’s actually happening inside the Islamic republic. The U.S. considers Iran one of the biggest state sponsors of terrorism and severed diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1979.

The mullahs mean business. Earlier this month, a hardline judge in Tehran sentenced eight Iranians, mostly students, to 8 and 20 years in prison respectively for posting on a Facebook page the mullahs don’t like. That was the precursor to the outright criminalization of social media, activists told VentureBeat.

“Hojjatol-Islam val-Moslemin Hamid Shahriari, the deputy chief justice for the Statistics, Information, and Technology Ministry,  is the highest official at the Islamic Republic of Iran’s judiciary system stating that Facebook and other social media sites are a threat to the country,” Kasraie said.

Roya Nobakht, 47, was caught up in the social media crackdown while visiting family members from England, where she lives. She was sentenced to 20 years three weeks ago and her family in the UK claims she has been beaten and brutalized inside Evin prison where she is being held.

Read her story here.

Facebook is an important communication platform for millions of Iranians, both inside the country and for those living abroad. Many refer to it as “Facebookistan,” Kasraie said.

“Many Iranians want to thank Zuckerberg for starting it,” she said. “It has brought many of us together.”


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31 comments
Nida Khan
Nida Khan

National Council of Resistance of Iran, a broad coalition of democratic Iranian organizations, groups, and personalities, was founded in 1981 in Tehran, Iran on the initiative of Massoud Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian Resistance. For more information visit http://www.ncr-iran.org/

Adam Sculthorpe
Adam Sculthorpe

Iran will become the most productive country on the planet!

Mike Drips
Mike Drips

Not using Facebook endangers lives?

Immanuel .I. George
Immanuel .I. George

Muhammad Waqas we all know why they ban facebook, they are afraid the people will protest, most middle east protest started from social networking .so they didnt ban it becos of is not good for the people they looking after themselves

Adeel Sami
Adeel Sami

They need to check first into their own system.

Thomas Chenhall
Thomas Chenhall

I fully support Iran's decision to ban Facebook. I would feel safer if my country was willing to protect my privacy by not allowing me to screw myself or my country over for thrills.

Muhammad Waqas
Muhammad Waqas

Neither I'm Iranian, not shia muslim. All I'm saying is, any state can do anything if it feel something isn't good for state. They can make laws to prevent damages. The similar way, your USA has NSA for nation interest with all illegal activities, why DONT you protest?

Mac Sar
Mac Sar

As an Iranian I think VB is making less and less sense in it's articles about Iran. Choosing mind blowing titles and rubbish content? Just leave it alone and stick to subjects you know about.


- Saghar Kasraie in Virginia is complaining about facebook access in Iran? complain my dodooo! What next? Making world peace? Just spend your father's money and have your fun.. or it is not enough and you want fame too?! Sisi girls advocating facebook freedom for Iran!!!


- Roya Nobakht was jailed for 3 years, not because of using facebook. But she was sentenced because of the content of his facebook messages. There is a huge difference.


- NO ONE has been arrested or jailed just because of using facebook in Iran (even though it is not legally allowed). 


So making a title like that is trolling the internet to gather some clicks. These cheap techniques work for a short time but won't bring you sustainable traffic. Just sayin...

Joseph Seo
Joseph Seo

I honestly think this is more helpful to a population than it is detrimental.

Joshua Darlington
Joshua Darlington

Stuff like that shouldn't slow down an American corporation. They specialize in getting around gov regulation. Maybe a shell corporation with a figurehead CEO will introduce a facebook clone in Iran... Which is eventually incorporated into facebook ... Or something like that.

Muhammad Waqas
Muhammad Waqas

You can pass law in your country to ban "Muhammad" name. Similar way they can pass law to enforce ban on Facebook. Whats the point?

Sunny Clark
Sunny Clark

how can anything be illegal, should having a name like "Muhammad " be illegal? Can you really be that dumb, it's a dictators country, not the "people", there is a huge difference. Oh the irony of you being on FB but being okay with others going to jail for what you just did.....

Ümit Durusu
Ümit Durusu

Social Media is far from being Social anyways. The west uses it to malinform the Iranians and to start an uprising. It wouldn't be the first time for some western countries to try overthrow a democratically elected government just because it doesn't suit a certain agenda. And then we start calling their countermeasures 'extreme violation of human rights'.... Yeah.

Mohammad Hashemian
Mohammad Hashemian

I have lived my who life in Iran and have my whole family and all my friends living there. Accessing Facebook and Twitter is not even the slightest concern for any sane person in the whole country (at least the ones I know). Many government officials including the supreme leader, minister of foreign affairs, and the president have official FB and Twitter pages, where they release different announcement.

This news, similar to other news by VentureBeat (http://venturebeat.com/2014/06/09/exclusive-family-of-jailed-facebook-user-in-iran-they-are-going-to-kill-her/) is quite misleading and wrong. The reason behind their arrest is been political activities they had in the social media, which of course is been followed by the government. 

I don't support their arrest and I believe in the freedom of speed in any topic, including political opinions, but what VentureBeat tries to show in their news lately is just false! Such news just discredits VentureBeat than anything else!

Bruce Pate
Bruce Pate

It's ironic that Iranian state-owned TV (Press TV) has a Facebook page.

Syed K Raza
Syed K Raza

you dont care abt hundreds of innocent people are killed in iraq due to terrorist attacks and you are so worried abt one female ..stop ur evil intention

Wendy Sue Buckleman
Wendy Sue Buckleman

Sh....not now. The less they know about where the situation is happening the better.

Yusuf Usman
Yusuf Usman

You see kafir lik free worldly thing.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke

this is a lot more serious that blocking social media

Muhammad Waqas
Muhammad Waqas

So what. Anything can be illegal in any country. Its their country. Let them deal with it. Facebook isn't basic human need.