TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran does not plan to unblock Facebook and Twitter for the general public even if some top government officials use it, the minister of telecommunications and information technology said Monday.
State TV quoted Mahmoud Vaezi as saying that the ban on the popular social networking sites will remain in place. Hours later however, he denied making such remarks and said the issue is still under study.
President Hasan Rouhani uses Twitter and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has both a Twitter and a Facebook page. There is a Twitter and Facebook page in the name of Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which appears to be genuine although Khamenei himself doesn’t tweet.
Many Iranians use proxies to access such sites. Last month, the ban was lifted for several hours. Official said a “technical glitch” was the reason users had temporary access. Still, scores of Facebook users posted notes of “Rouhani, Mochakerim,” which is Farsi for “Thank you, Rouhani.”
In a statement posted late Monday on his ministry’s website, ic.gov.ir, Vaezi said the issue of blocking or unblocking a site has to be decided by a professional body outside his ministry.
“I haven’t made such remarks … Such issues are being studied by a working group outside the ministry of communications and information technology. The public will be informed as soon as a decision is made,” he said.
Rouhani has advocated a policy of openness in social issues.