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?

The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

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.

Iranians surf the web in an Internet cafe at a shopping center in Tehran.Credit: AP