Iran’s answer to handle the outbreak of the virus within its bounds is by controlling access to the Internet. Access to free information is also having an effect on the way American social media company Instagram is now restricting mention of any information about Iranian top general who was recently assassinated on the orders of Donald Trump. According to an official spokesperson from Facebook, they were being careful as directed by the Trump administration that none of the shares (including Instagram posts) were not encouraging or representing the thoughts and philosophy of Soleimani or IRGC’s goals.
So recently, the American social media company removed a post from Iranian journalist and activist Emadeddin Baghi, who had written that Soleimani’s assassination ran “contrary to the principles of international law.” Sanctions, as political analysts say, have an uncanny way of interfering with everything that is normal between two nations.
Additionally, Iran has systematically reduced the usage of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter since 2009. They have retaliated to the US trade pressure more by seizing any use of the Internet to its civilian population. The regime has instead pushed citizens toward internet services that have its approval, if not outright backing. The upshot is more opportunities for state surveillance and less political freedom for internet users inside the country.
That is one way that Iran has now controlled the news of the actual number of deaths and infectious spread of the coronavirus. According to Netblocks, a digital rights advocacy group that tracks internet disruptions around the world, Iran has been using this tactic earlier as well. It has confirmed that there have been widespread internet disruptions at night in certain parts of the country, including Qom, where the outbreak is believed to have originated.
In November 2019, a similar regimental control was put into force and it was only removed when the US publicly shamed Iran for controlling the right to free information from its citizens. Iran has been affected by similar proportions as Italy. It recently lost supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the virus last week. Khamenei is known to have downplayed the disaster and gave a wrong picture to the Iranian population.
Iranian health officials have confirmed to the local media that the country now has 2,922 confirmed cases of infection and 92 deaths. Among those infected are at least 23 of the country’s lawmakers, including the deputy health minister Iraj Hariri.
To read more related articles: Click here