Facebook is very popular among Iranians, who have to access the site through anti-filtering tools.
A Basij official claimed last year that some 17 million Iranians are using Facebook. Iranian officials are clearly not happy about the popularity of social media, which they accuse of being tools of U.S. intelligence services.
During the 2009 postelection protests, opposition members used social media to document human rights abuses by government forces.
Iranians discuss taboo subjects on social-networking sites and inform others about news and developments that are often being censored or ignored in state media.
One example is this video of last week’s visit by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Bandar Abbas, where an old man tells him that he’s hungry and a young woman climbs into his car to talk with him.
Last year, a symbolic stoning, similar to the one performed at the annual haj, was staged against Facebook and YouTube at an exhibition of digital media.
This year, military forces marched against Facebook.
We’re wondering, what’s next?
Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org