Tehran: Iran curbed access to Meta Platforms’ (META.O) Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the last remaining social networks in the country, amid protests over the death of a woman in police custody, residents and internet watchdog NetBlocks said.
Last week’s death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for “unsuitable attire”, has unleashed anger over issues including freedom in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions.
NetBlocks also reported a “nation-scale loss of connectivity” on Iran’s mail mobile telephone provider and another company’s network.
WhatsApp’s servers have been disrupted on multiple internet providers, hours after Instagram’s services were blocked, London-based NetBlocks said.
The group’s data shows a near-total disruption to internet service in parts of Kurdistan province in west Iran since Monday, while the capital city of Tehran and other parts of the country have also faced disruptions since Friday when protests first broke out.
Two residents in Tehran and southern Iran said they could only send text and not pictures on WhatsApp and that Instagram appeared to be completely blocked.
Iran has often curbed internet access to make it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest.
Protests have been particularly intense in Kurdistan. Iran’s minister of communications said earlier he had been misquoted after news outlets cited him as saying the authorities might disrupt internet services for security reasons.
Three people have been killed during protests in Kurdistan province over the death of a young woman after she was arrested by “morality police”, the region’s governor said.
Public anger has grown in Iran since authorities announced the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, after her arrest by the police.
The death of Amini, who had fallen into a coma after being detained for wearing “improper” hijab, has triggered violent protests as well as rare outspoken criticism from senior officials in the Islamic republic.