Iran's Cabinet Joins Facebook, Despite Official State Blocking of Social Media Site

Social media site is blocked in Iran; will the move herald the easing of Internet restrictions in the Islamic Republic?

Almost all of Iran's ministers have opened Facebook pages in what is seen as a move toward greater openness - even though the social media site is blocked in the Islamic Republic.

The Facebook pages of 15 ministers could be viewed in Tehran through a proxy server. Newspapers on Monday hinted the move might herald the lifting of some Internet barriers.

All but one minister signed up this August after the inauguration of centrist- and reformist-backed President Hassan Rohani, who has also opened a page.

Hard-liners see the Internet as a possible corrupting force, but many Iranians use proxies to access banned sites.

"It seems the 'key"' - Rohani's electoral symbol in his presidential campaign - "may turn the lock of [Internet] filtering," the pro-reform Shargh daily said.

Facebook is not the only social media platform being used by the Iranian government's more moderate-leaninbg president - a Twitter account believed to operate with the authorization of Iranian President Hassan Rohani wished Jews worldwide last week a Shanah Tovah, or Happy New Year.

“As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah,” the tweet posted Wednesday said.

The office of the recently elected Iranian president has not denied that the account, @HassanRouhani, is his and it is believed that it would not persist without his approval.

Rohani was elected this year as a relative moderate ostensibly willing to make Iran’s nuclear program more transparent, but resisting calls by Western states and Israel to reduce Iran’s uranium enrichment.