Iran’s leadership is building a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, despite the fact that social media has been outlawed for several years in that country. One set of rules for the people, am I right?
Facebook has been banned in Iran since the country’s 2009 election, coincidentally right about the time that the then-despotic leadership discovered that social media actually allowed unhappy Iranians to share the truth about their country with the world, circumventing the corrupt state media.
But wouldn’t you know, Iran’s new reformist-backed President Hassan Rouhani and all of his Cabinet ministers have Facebook pages which can be viewed by a proxy server. Rouhani is highly active on Twitter, as well.He’s mostly known for his ruthless hashtag spamming.
We don’t know what this means yet, but we can’t help but a little skeptical. Iran isn’t exactly known for its appreciation of freedoms of speech and demonstration, and Rouhani was only elected in August, so who knows what kind of leader he could end up being. “Oh, he’s a nice guy,” some have told me, but that’s what we all thought about Egypt’s Morsi and look how that turned out.
Hypothetically, could Facebook pages owned and operated by Iran’s president and Cabinet ministers mean that the new order will lift some of the restrictions on social media for the people? Maybe. Some people hope so.
The Next Web theorizes that social media could remain illegal with the government pages meant for communicating better with media and people overseas. It could also be an “Assad’s wife” scenario. Syria’s first lady started an Instagram account to improve international perception of the violent, war-torn country. The page has been universally criticized, and Asma al-Assad has been called the Marie Antoinette of the Middle East. Ouch.
As with any social news from the Middle East, we’re cautious. What do you think Iran’s government figures have set up Facebook pages for?
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]