The Iranian government blocked Instagram and a popular messaging app on Sunday, in its latest bid to quell mass protests throughout the Islamic republic.
Millions of everyday Iranians had been keeping up with protests via Instagram pictures and messages shared on Telegram.
“Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down … peacefully protesting channels,” Telegram CEO Pavel Durov
Tehran claimed that social media censorship was necessary to maintain public safety.
“With a decision by the Supreme National Security Council, activities of Telegram and Instagram are temporarily limited,” according to a statement on Iranian state TV.
The seemingly spontaneous demonstrations began on Thursday night and continued through Sunday morning – with two deaths reported overnight from the unrest.
The death were in in the southwestern city of Dorud.
Tehran vowed to hold protesters – calling for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down – responsible for the civil unrest.
“Those who damage public property, disrupt order and break the law must be responsible for their behavior and pay the price,” Interior Minister Abdolrahman Rahmani Fazli said on state TV Sunday.
President Trump tweeted on Sunday that the US will keep a close on for potential human rights violations by Iran during these protests.
“Big protests in Iran. The people are finally wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism,” Trump posted at 8:03 a.m.
“Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”
The protests have forced Tehran into concessions – such as backing away from plans to raise gas prices and promises to increase cash payments to the poor.
“We predict that at least 830,000 jobs will be created in the new year,” government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht told state TV on Saturday night, without offering much detail of the promised economic revival.
There are reportedly 3.2 million Iranians currently out of work.