On Monday, Iranians had a brief taste of the social media the rest of the world has access to before the country's censorship portcullis clanged down again this morning, with the authorities citing a "technical glitch." The news will come as a big disappointment to Twitter users in the country, who were rejoicing at what they thought was a lifting of the country's firewall, which limits access to many Western sites. Thomas Erdbrink, Tehran bureau chief for the New York Times, tells the story in his tweets:
Ever since Hassan Rouhani succeeded to the presidency in June, there seems to have been a notable softening of Internet censorship. So in some ways, the loosening of the social media bonds seemed like a natural progression. President Rouhani has his own Twitter handle, and several cabinet ministers have been using verified Facebook and Twitter accounts in the past week. This softening, however, has coincided with the arrival of a national email service in the country––which may or may not mean the state is keeping tabs on its netizens by surreptitious methods. Earlier this year it launched its own "Halal Internet," just ahead of the presidential elections.
And it could have been so good. Yesterday's news concerning the impending launch of the country's catstronaut pointed to an auspicious series of social media accounts from the Ministry of Culture in Teheran: LOLcats in Space, anyone?