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    12 Ways Iran Is At War Over The Internet

    76 million Iranians are fighting an online battle against their country's oppressive government. At stake? Freedom from tyranny, self-expression and Pharrell videos. Here's the current state of play.

    1. The Iranian government won't let you be "Happy" online


    If the Internet is anything, it's a place to express yourself freely. And if there's one thing the Iranian regime fears, it's freedom of expression.

    Take for example the case of a handful of young Iranians in Tehran, who like half the world, from Gaza to Somaliland, danced through the streets to cover Pharrell's "Happy" music video. The Iranian regime was having none of it. The people you see in the video were arrested, forced to confess to their "crimes" on state TV, and thrown in jail.

    2. Iran blocked Facebook...

    Even though the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has his own Facebook page, the average Iranian can't access Facebook in the country.

    3. ... and then tried to arrest Mark Zuckerberg

    Via Flickr: kk

    In May, a judge in Iran ordered the founder of Facebook to appear in Iranian court to face charges on privacy violations. This wasn't the first Facebook-related arrest in the country. In May 2014, Iran sentenced 8 Facebook users to a combined 123 years in prison for insulting the Supreme Leader.

    4. They’re also trying to block Instagram...

    Via Instagram: @khamenei_ir

    In 2012, the Supreme Leader launched his Instagram account to disseminate his glowering selfies to the world. In 2014, a court in Iran ordered it be blocked for everyone else.

    5. ... and Twitter...

    Iran blocked Twitter in 2009 when Iranians used it to protest the sham presidential election that saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad steal another term.

    Last year, recently elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted a response to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, saying that Iranians have the "right" to access whatever info they want. Apparently that means any info except tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and so on.

    6. ... and Viber and WhatsApp, among countless other sites and apps.

    Iran's government thinks chatting with your friends and reading news online will result in "improper" activities. Their solution? Ban all the sites. Almost half of the world's 500 most popular sites are blocked in Iran.

    7. The sites and apps Iranians can access are almost unusable


    Internet speeds in Iran are some of the slowest in the world. The Iranian regime keeps the speeds low on purpose to control what Iranians can see and access. The day before the Iranian Presidential election in June 2013, the government throttled the Internet by over 80%, which rendered the Internet virtually useless.

    8. But that's not good enough for the regime - they want to go full North Korea

    The regime's ultimate goal with the Internet is to cut Iranians off entirely from the rest of the online world by building an "Iran-only" Internet. This "Internet" would prevent Iranians from accessing anything outside their country.

    But Iranians and groups outside the country are fighting back against the Iranian regime in clever ways online.

    9. Like with Operation Stealthy Freedom

    Facebook: page.masihalinejad

    Iranian women have posted photos of themselves without headscarves on social media using the hashtag #mystealthyfreedom. This is in response to the strict dress code enforced by the notorious Basij "morality police". The #mystealthyfreedom Facebook page has over 500,000 likes.

    10. And #MustSeeIran

    Twitter: @MustSeeIran

    #MustSeeIran was created to promote tourism in Iran, but human rights groups hijacked the government's social media campaign to show instead how the Iranian government is trampling human rights.

    11. They're also hacking through government web barriers…

    Using VPNs and other censorship circumvention tools, some Iranians are able to access Western websites and speak to the outside world.

    12. ... but the regime is cracking down.

    View this video on YouTube

    The Iranian government has caught on and is quashing use of popular circumvention software, like Psiphon. The video above shows how the regime throttles the Internet around key events, like the 2013 presidential election.

    The people of Iran are doing their best, but there's only so much they can do from inside the country.

    If you want to learn more and find out how you can help us hold Iran to account, visit

    Canada and Iran (Facebook)

    Canada and Iran (Twitter)

    French version of this story here

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