And the winners in #Iran are: Mark and Hassan

I am sure by now you have all heard the news that a judge in the Iranian city of Shiraz has:

demanded that Zuckerberg appears in his court and explains why some Iranians claim that Instagram and WhatsApp are invading their privacy.

This ruling is yet another shot across bow of president Hassan Rouhani. As I mentioned in my latest Al Monitor piece, the conservatives in Iran are worried about a jump in the popularity of Rouhani after a nuclear deal. So they have decided to contain him.

One of the methods used in their containment strategy is to try to block and demonize the use of social media in Iran, precisely because Rouhani has called for more internet freedom.

This court ruling is likely to backfire. It’s ridiculous demand that Zuckerberg should stand trial in Iran is likely to boost Rouhani’s stance that current internet regulations in Iran are backwards. So in this game:

Hassan Rouhani 1 – Iranian ultra conservatives 0

What about Mark Zuckerberg?

Well, the rule of thumb in Iran is that if you want to make something popular, ask the regime to ban it.

So by trying to ban Instagram, the regime has publicized this lesser known app, and more importantly, has given the younger generation reason to use it. So in this game:

Mark Zuckerberg 1 – Iranian ultra conservatives 0

Mark and Hassan are clearly the winners.

Update: According to Al Monitor, quoting Iranian news sources:

Shiraz Chief Prosecutor Ali Alghasi Mehr told the Islamic Republic News Agency that the story of Zuckberg’s summoning, which made international news, is not true.


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