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Iran unrest: What’s going on with Iran and the internet?
"People in Iran are being cut off from online apps and services," Instagram chief Adam Mosseri tweeted.

Activists in Iran are expressing concern about widespread internet outages and residents being unable to access social media. Anger has circulated online after over a week of protests sparked by the death of a Kurdish woman in police custody.

Internet monitoring group NetBlocks said Instagram and WhatsApp - two of the major communication tools that Iran usually allows - had been restricted.

WhatsApp said it was working to keep Iranian users connected. The two Meta-owned apps have millions of Iranian users and have become increasingly popular after authorities blocked other platforms in recent years, including Facebook and Twitter.

Telegram, YouTube and TikTok have also periodically been closed down.

The latest intermittent blackouts follow the eruption of nationwide protest over Mahsa Amini's death. The 22-year-old had been detained for allegedly failing to adhere to hijab (headscarf) rules.

NetBlocks reported that the internet was partially reconnected on Thursday night but that on Friday it was suffering a "nation-scale loss of connectivity" again.

People also reported not being able to access their WhatsApp accounts even when trying to use a VPN and proxy. Ordinarily, website access is heavily restricted by government filters and only those with VPNs can access uncensored content from overseas websites. But this ban seems different.

So what is really going on?

The internet blackouts largely come from Iran's biggest mobile phone operator being offline. Iran Mobile Communications Company has more than 60 million customers.

Earlier in the week, the communications minister blamed security reasons for the disruption.

Miss Amini's death has unleashed anger over issues including personal freedoms and economic challenges in Iran.Protesters - many of whom are women who have been waving and burning their veils - say they fear an escalating crackdown."

We are worried that the world will forget about Iran as soon as the regime shuts down the internet - which is already happening," one activist, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.

Most of the protests and campaigns are organised by people over social media and if they cannot get connected then it becomes much more difficult to mobilise.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has said protesting is allowed in the country but "rioting" will not be tolerated." Protests have always happened in Iran. The protesters are heard. However, protests must be distinguished from rioting," he said.

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