The Iranian government shut down Instagram and WhatsApp and drastically reduced internet speed on September 21 in response to nationwide protests. This has not only greatly restricted Iranians' access to information but it has also limited millions of Iranians' business activities. Three of our Observers explain how these restrictions have affected their daily lives and how they are still managing, sometimes, to get around them.
"The reason for blocking [Instagram and WhatsApp] is the wickedness and the malicious activities that the enemies promote on it,” Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president, who himself has a verified Instagram account, said on December 7, 2022.
In other words, the two social networks were banned because people used them to share photos and information about the protests that have rocked Iran since September 16 following Mahsi Amini's death while in police custody.
Instagram and WhatsApp are just the latest networks to be banned – the government has blocked Facebook, Twitter and Telegram for years.
More than 43 million Iranians, or 50% of adults in the country, use Instagram, according to estimates. More than 61 million Iranians, or 71% of the population, use WhatsApp.