Conservative and reformist elements of the Iranian political machine clashed on Tuesday when a judge condemned WhatsApp and Instagram just weeks after a proposed ban on WhatsApp was overturned by Iran’s president.
A court in the Fars province in southern Iran summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in response to “many citizens’ complaints” about the privacy violations of two Facebook-owned applications, Instagram and WhatsApp, Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday.
Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an information-technology official with the paramilitary Basij organization, called for “the Zionist director of Facebook” or his attorney to appear in the Iranian court to defend Facebook and pay possible damages. Zuckerberg is unlikely to visit Iran to stand trial: The United States and Iran do not have an extradition agreement, and the Facebook CEO has no incentive to voluntarily appear in court.
Instagram, a photo-sharing service, and WhatsApp, an instant-messaging application, are often blocked in Iran, and some social-media services such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are almost always banned. Despite these Internet filters, high-level Iranian officials such as President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and even Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are active on social media, and many Iranians use proxy services to circumvent government filters.
Inconsistent messaging within Iran over social media is representative of a persistent struggle in the country between reform-minded Rouhani and the hard-line politicians who oppose him. Rouhani challenged a ban on WhatsApp that was originally proposed in early May, unwilling to block a widely used service without an alternative in place. “We should see the cyberworld as an opportunity,” the Iranian president said earlier this month. “Why are we so shaky? Why don’t we trust our youth?”
Another explanation for Iran’s attempted ban on WhatsApp and other messaging services is that the country’s telecommunications industry is trying to protect its pocketbook. The national Telecommunications Company of Iran has lost revenue to messaging services such as WhatsApp, BBC Persian reports, and could be applying pressure to maintain its hold over Iranians’ communications.
As Iranian politicians work out their differences, then, Zuckerberg might do well to avoid the scenic Fars province.
What We're Following See More »
The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.
"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."
No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."
"By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump." That's the message from USA Today editors, who are making the first recommendation on a presidential race in the paper's 34-year history. It's not exactly an endorsement; they make clear that the editorial board "does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement." But they state flatly that Donald Trump is, by "unanimous consensus of the editorial board, unfit for the presidency."