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Iranian state-controlled television has accused Facebook and Twitter of being Iran’s “hidden enemies” and tools used by Western intelligence agencies in order to recruit new members and gather data on individuals.

The website Mardomak has posted a video of the report.

The segment starts with a short biography of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, but then goes on to say that the website is social only in appearance. According to the report: "The aim of Facebook is to identify people for special operations for Western spying agencies."

It includes a short interview with an unidentified individual whose face is darkened and who claims he works for Facebook and cooperates with Western intelligence agencies.

“I‘ve been working for Facebook for a year and a half. I provide spy organizations with information and sell them information they need. I’m not unhappy with this work because I get a lot of money for doing it,” the unnamed individual said.

Twitter is also accused in the report of providing information about individuals to Western intelligence agencies.

“Twitter gives people the habit of informing others about their activities every second, therefore information that is not accessible on other sites is being extracted from people in order to be given to Western intelligence organizations,” according to the program's narrator. (Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also on Twitter and he tweets often about his views and activities.)

The report features an interview with another unidentified individual who claims he was told by Twitter officials to provide them with tapes of his conversations with friends and colleagues in case "one day it would be used by spy agencies.”

The report adds that Facebook and Twitter were involved in “a psychological and propaganda war,” which according to the report was launched against Iran following last year’s disputed presidential vote.

The report is a sign of Iran’s growing concern over the popularity of social-networking websites among young Iranians, many of whom have used Facebook to share news, images, and videos of protests and information about the plight of political prisoners.

The opposition movement, however, is increasingly trying to reach out to the less affluent segments of Iranian society, many of whom are not online.

Members of the Green movement based outside Iran announced in early September that they have launched a new satellite TV channel, RASA TV, to break the state-controlled broadcasters' monopoly on the flow of information.

Meanwhile, the Kalame website, which is close to opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, announced recently that it is launching a newspaper.

Three pre-launch issues are available on the websites as PDF. The site has called on readers to print them out and share them with “their neighbors, classmates, and colleagues.”

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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