Iran Seeks to Block Instagram, Citing 'Immoral, Obscene Content'

Observers say the move is politically motivated, given that many of the regime's opponents organize on the platform; Facebook, Twitter and Telegram already banned

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Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei speaks before a crowd in Tehran
Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei speaks before a crowd in Tehran, January 9, 2016Credit: AFP

Justice officials in Iran want to ban Instagram due to what it deems "immoral" content on the photo-sharing app, according to local media.

"Instagram unfortunately has not only illegal but also immoral and obscene content," the state prosecution service's IT commissary, Javad Javadnia, said on Thursday.

Authorities are now waiting for a final decision from Iran's political leadership in order to implement the ban, the Isna news agency reported.

>>How Iran spreads disinformation across the globe

Instagram is hugely popular in Iran, where millions of people use the service to share pictures and videos. Much of the content - both from outside and within the country - violates the republic's strict Islamic rules.

Twitter, Facebook and the encrypted messaging service Telegram are all already banned in Iran.

Observers say that blocking social media is politically motivated, as they are often used by critics of the regime to communicate and promote their causes.

Many Iranians use a virtual private network, or VPN, to get around the ban. Research by state media found that 40 million-45 million people continue to use Telegram in Iran.