Despite a slight glitch last week, the Internet in Iran remains heavily censored. But new president Hassan Rouhani, who's been winning friends and influencing people, called for more open Internet access again Tuesday at the behest of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.*
For some reason Dorsey decided to start a conversation with Rouhani on Tuesday morning, asking whether or not Iranian citizens could, you know, actually read his tweets. The short version is that, no, they can't, but Rouhani hopes they'll be able to soon:
"There are large social networks at a global level around today," Rouhani told Christine Amanpour last week during his historic trip to New York. "And I believe that all human beings have a right, and all nations have a right to use them." But he acknowledged that Iran's current mentality doesn't mesh will with those social networks:
Now, it is possible that a country might - a certain country might have a framework, an ethical and moral concern. And many countries do, in fact, have that, that they try to follow. And in Iran, there are certainly such frameworks in place, as well.
For a brief moment last week, Rouhani had his wish. Iranians were briefly able to access Facebook, Twitter and other social networks for about a day. But the government quickly nipped that mistake in the bud. "The lack of a filter on Facebook last night was apparently due to technical problems and the technological committee is investigating this issue," Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, the head of Iran’s filtering and monitoring committee, said, according to a translation by Haaretz. But some reports suggested the brief respite from censorship was caused by feuding politicians inside the Iranian government. Like, perhaps, the more liberal Rouhani vs. some more hardline Iranians.
Unfortunately, Rouhani still doesn't have a verified account.
*Correction: This story previously identified Jack Dorsey as the CEO of Twitter. While Dorsey is a founder and former CEO of the company, his role at the company is now as a board member. Dick Costolo is the current CEO. We regret the error.