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Iranian government confronts Telegram as election approaches

Iranian authorities are scrambling to gain control of the messaging app Telegram ahead of the presidential elections, blocking channels by the thousands only to see new ones take their place.
Women check the news on a mobile phone during a campaign gathering of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections mainly close to the reformist camp, in Tehran February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.   - RTX287F0

In the aftermath of the 2009 post-presidential election protests in Iran, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube became popular platforms to disseminate videos and information from inside the country to the outside world. In response, authorities quickly blocked the sites, ultimately slowing their growth domestically. That restriction created an opportunity for a messaging app called Telegram to take the country by storm years later.

Telegram is a German-based company created by Russian entrepreneurs Nikolai and Pavel Durov. As of April 2016, Telegram had more than 45 million users in a country of nearly 80 million. It first started as a traditional messaging service with group messaging its most popular feature. When the app introduced its channels feature, individual accounts suddenly flourished and the app became a popular avenue for sharing political content in addition to its already popular use of entertainment and sharing memes.

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