As unrest grows, Iran restricts access to Instagram, WhatsApp

Death of 22-year-old woman unleashes anger over issues

A police motorcycle is burning during a protest in downtown Tehran, Iran. – AP
A police motorcycle is burning during a protest in downtown Tehran, Iran. – AP

By Reuters

Published: Wed 21 Sep 2022, 11:20 PM

Last updated: Wed 21 Sep 2022, 11:48 PM

Iran curbed access on Wednesday to Meta Platforms' Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the last remaining social networks in the country, amid protests over the death of a woman in police custody, residents and internet watchdog NetBlocks said.

Last week's death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for "unsuitable attire", has unleashed anger over issues including freedom in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions.

NetBlocks also reported a "nation-scale loss of connectivity" on Iran's mail mobile telephone provider and another company's network.

WhatsApp's servers have been disrupted on multiple internet providers, hours after Instagram's services were blocked, London-based NetBlocks said.

The group's data shows a near-total disruption to internet service in parts of Kurdistan province in west Iran since Monday, while the capital city of Tehran and other parts of the country have also faced disruptions since Friday when protests first broke out.

Two residents in Tehran and southern Iran said they could only send text and not pictures on WhatsApp and that Instagram appeared to be completely blocked.

Iran's minister of communications said earlier on Wednesday he had been misquoted after news outlets cited him as saying the authorities might disrupt internet services for security reasons.

Meta and Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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