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Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace announces plans for social media monitoring

Given the widespread use of smartphones, Iranian officials say there is a need to monitor election-related social media activity.

The Feb. 26 parliamentary elections are the first elections to take place in Iran during which Telegram will be, by far, the most-used messaging service in the country. Approximately 13 million to 14 million Iranians are on the service. Iranian media, from Reformist to hard-line outlets, and Iranian officials, from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to lesser-known authorities, all have their own official Telegram accounts. The ubiquitous use of the messaging service poses a challenge for authorities, which want a big turnout but also one without protests or other gatherings or excessive celebrations.

What has made Telegram so popular, other than it has not yet been blocked, is that many Iranians now have smartphones. According to Seyyed Abul-Hassan Firouzabadi, secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, 39 million Iranians own smartphones — that is, approximately half the country's population.

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