INU – On Friday, the Daily Caller reported that the popular dating app Tinder has apparently begun to catch on in the Islamic Republic of Iran in spite of the prevalence of government monitoring and enforcement of morality laws that criminalize intermingling of the genders. The report indicates that Tinder is just the latest extension of an underground dating scene that has been growing in defiance of such social restrictions.
This news follows closely upon a number of other recent stories that indicate the challenge that technology poses to the Iranian regime’s repression of Western influence and criminalization of dissent. For instance, recent security updates to the photo-sharing service Instagram have effectively destroyed a scheme that was previously touted by the regime for “smart filtering” of undesirable content.
Such changes only add to an already substantial capability of the young and tech savvy Iranian population to bypass restrictions placed on online content. Facebook and Twitter are banned across-the-board in the Islamic Republic, but citizens routinely violate this ban through the use of proxy servers and other technical tricks.
The relative freedom that such evasion provides is being applied on an even broader scale, as evidenced by a recent report in The Guardian detailing how some Iranian authors and publishers are moving to e-publication in order to avoid heavy government censorship. The growth of Tinder in Iran indicates that the internet and social media are now also being used to secure new dimensions of social freedom in addition to providing some measure of freedom in the sharing of news, information, and political views.
This is not to say that the internet insulates Iranians from all risk of government repression in response to online activities. Indeed, the Iranian courts regularly bring cases against citizens on such vague charges as “insulting the supreme leader” or “spreading corruption,” solely on the basis of remarks posted on Facebook.