Iran restricts access to WhatsApp and Instagram in response to Mahsa Amini protests

The 22-year-old women died last week in police custody.

·1-min read
Mohamed Azakir / reuters

Iran has blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp as its government attempts to subdue protests that began last week following the death of a woman at the hands of local authorities. As of Wednesday, demonstrations across the country had been ongoing for four consecutive days. The protests began over the weekend after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iran’s morality police on September 16th. She was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

According to internet watchdog NetBlocks (via Reuters), the Iranian government has gradually restricted web access across much of the country in recent days. The blackout began in Tehran and other parts of Iran when protests first broke out on Friday. On the evening of September 19th, the government extended restrictions to parts of the western Kurdistan province. As of Wednesday, accessing WhatsApp and Instagram through any of the country’s major internet providers was impossible. According to NetBlocks, the current restrictions are the most severe since 2019, when Iran shut down all internet access in response to fuel protests.

Meta did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment. NetBlocks suggests the disruptions are likely to significantly limit the ability of the Iranian people to communicate freely. In theory, Iran’s government may believe that restricting internet access will reduce the likelihood of protestors organizing and allow it to better control the narrative of Amini's death.