Iran

Tim Bradshaw

How-to videos, cute toddler antics, music and people making “hilarious” gaffes when speaking foreign languages. Iran’s attempt to ape YouTube, Mehr.ir launched this weekend, with many of the features that made its predecessor so popular.

Of course, Mehr – which means “affection” in Farsi – isn’t competing with YouTube: it’s replacing it. According to newswire reports and Iranian state TV, the government-endorsed Mehr is designed to promote Iranian and Islamic culture. Read more

Last month Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director-general, pointed the finger at the Iranian authorities for allegedly intimidating employees at its Persian service.

Now the corporation’s chief is taking things a step further by accusing Iran of masterminding a “sophisticated cyber-attack” that involved jamming satellite feeds in an effort to wreak havoc with broadcasts into the country. Read more

Richard Waters

An idealistic young San Francisco developer (with photogenic long hair and a gift for talking to the press) is inspired to create software to help those living under repressive regimes to get around internet censorship. He tests it first in Iran, with plans to roll it out around the world.

“It’s the perfect narrative that people wanted to believe,” says Mehdi Yahyanejad, the creator of a successful Persian language Website who reviewed the software, known as Haystack.

Alas, the software – the brainchild of 26-year-old Austin Heap – did not deliver as advertised, and could actually have put its users at risk (though Mr Yahyanejad points out that using censorship-circumventing technology is not in itself illegal in Iran). Read more

Richard Waters

  • After reported intervention by the US State department, Twitter delayed a scheduled maintenance outage so that its service would be available to help disseminate the message from protesters in Iran. With journalists there operating under increasingly heavy restrictions, the micro-blogging service has come to play an important role.
  • How do you salvage a former internet star that has been flirting with irrelevance? Sack nearly a third of the staff. That was the first move by new MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta on Tuesday as he tried to bring entrepreneurial drive back to the social networking site.

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