Iran Announces Plans for Social Media Monitoring

Given the increase in the use of social media and messaging services, Firouzabadi said that special guidelines were produced for social media outlets to observe the same rules as print and online media. Regarding candidates’ use of social media and messaging services, Firouzabadi warned that some contenders might publish unreliable polls showing them to be winning.

Mahmoud Vaezi, minister of information and communication technology, said that his ministry as well the Interior Ministry have formed their own special committees to monitor social media activity by candidates. There are approximately 6,200 parliamentary candidates. The Supreme Council for Cyberspace already has a special committee monitoring social media content, on which the Interior, Intelligence and Culture Ministries and the Cyber Police all have a representative.

“All the affairs related to the election activities in social media will be observed and evaluated by these two committees,” Vaezi said. He added that in the case of violations of the law, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology would not pursue a legal case. Rather, it would be up to the Interior Ministry and the judiciary to pursue a case and then his ministry would enforce any verdict.

After the 2009 elections and protests, the popular social media websites Facebook and Twitter were blocked in Iran. Despite the hype, it remains unclear how influential these platforms were in helping protesters organize. Telegram, as a messaging platform, has become much more popular and more commonly used than Facebook or Twitter.

In preparation for the elections, Hossein Ashtari, head of Iran’s police, said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the police would deploy 250,000 officers across the country “to ensure the process is carried out democratically and safely.”

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