updated 05:07 am EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Ban by censors opposed by Iranian government officials
Censors in Iran have moved to ban the WhatsApp messaging service, for being owned by an "American Zionist," according to reports. The reasoning of the ban stems from the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook for a total of $19 billion earlier this year, with the Jewish background of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg being at issue.
The secretary of the Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi,was quoted by Haaretz as stating "the reason for this is the adoption by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist." The view of the committee is not shared elsewhere in the country's government, with Communications Minister Mahmoud Mehr stating through Twitter that the "Government of Prudence and Hope fully opposed to filtering of WhatsApp."
Facebook was banned in Iran in 2009, alongside Twitter, following protests disputing the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In a similar way to recent filtering of Twitter in Turkey, Iranian users are said to be able to access the social networks via proxies. Iran has previously blocked access to Google, Gmail, and YouTube over a YouTube video deemed blasphemous by religious leaders, though Gmail was quickly unblocked, with officials claiming it was unintentional.
President Hassan Rouhani, leader of the country since last year, is thought to be more interested in technology than predecessor Ahmadinejad, and has previously encouraged his staff and ministers to sign up to Facebook to promote openness, despite the countrywide ban.