Ali Jannati, the Iranian minister of culture and guidance, announced that membership in Facebook is not a crime and “those who are members of it have healthy and decent relationships.”
ISNA reports that in a speech on Friday November 15, Jannati said that while the special committee for determining criminal cyber activity is in charge of making the final decision on the matter, in his opinion Facebook membership is not a crime.
Millions of Iranians have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but both sites are blocked in Iran, and users can access them only through the use of proxies.
Jannati stressed that if he participates in the special committee, he will definitely pursue the issue of filtering Facebook.
Jannati added that he himself is on Facebook and he has online connections with many people inside and outside the country who have Facebook accounts.
The committee issued its own statement on the heels of the minister’s comments, saying that it is currently examining the issue of blocking social networking sites.
Since Hassan Rohani`s administration came into power, there has been a strong push for free access to social networking websites. The president and many of his minister have said publicly that they have Facebook and Twitter accounts.