Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

Twitter cited what it said was the coordinated and targeted harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 July 2019

Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

  • Twitter said the accounts harassed people linked to the Baha’i faith
  • The Baha’i faith is a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran

WASHINGTON: A day after Twitter suspended the accounts of several Iranian state media outlets, the social networking service said it acted after harassment of people linked to a minority group.
Amid soaring tensions in the region, heightened by Iran’s seizure on Friday of a British-flagged tanker, some of the affected media outlets had speculated that the suspensions were related to their coverage of the seizure.
But Twitter cited what it said was the coordinated and targeted harassment of people linked to the Baha’i religion, a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran.
It did not name the suspended accounts, and said it was continuing to investigate the matter.
“Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules,” read English-language messages on each of the Iranian media outlets’ accounts.
Mehr news agency, which is close to moderate conservatives in Iran, said its Farsi-language account appeared to have been blocked late Friday following its reports on the seizure of the tanker Stena Impero in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

FASTFACT

• Twitter said regime media involved in the coordinated and targeted harassment of people linked to a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran. • Mehr’s Farsi-language Twitter page was inaccessible, along with those of the official IRNA news agency and the agency of the Young Journalists’ Club. • Another account taken down belonged to Ali Akbar Raefipoor, a hard-line public speaker.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it seized the Swedish-owned tanker for breaking “international maritime rules” in the strait, a chokepoint for around a third of the world’s seaborne oil.
Mehr’s Farsi-language Twitter page was inaccessible, along with those of the official IRNA news agency and the agency of the Young Journalists’ Club.
“Since last night and after the seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz the account of the Young Journalists’ Club and some other users have been suspended,” the YJC said on its website.
Mehr noted that its Mehr Diplomacy account, which publishes analysis and interviews on foreign policy, was also offline.
Another account taken down belonged to Ali Akbar Raefipoor, a hardline public speaker.
None of the owners of the suspended accounts said they had been given any reason for the move by Twitter.
The micro-blogging platform is banned in Iran, but many officials still have accounts and people access them by using a virtual private network, or VPN, to bypass censorship.


Saudis switch from TV to mobile video

A man records a video with his phone in Berlin, Germany, August 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 August 2019

Saudis switch from TV to mobile video

  • Short online films are watched most during the traditional primetime TV slot between 5pm and 11pm, for an average of 53 minutes

RIYADH: More Saudis watch short online videos than traditional TV, a new study suggests. Researchers found that more than 85 percent of Saudis viewed videos lasting less than 10 minutes at least once a day. Eight out of 10 watched premium professional short films every day, while only seven out of 10 watched traditional TV every day.
Short online films are watched most during the traditional primetime TV slot between 5pm and 11pm, for an average of 53 minutes.
Of those surveyed, 93 percent said mobile video helped them discover new and unique content, and 91 percent said it stimulated their minds, put them in a positive mood and gave them a chance to take a break from their daily lives.
“Saudis are some of the most avid short-form video consumers in the world,” said Andy Pang, head of international marketing science at Snapchat, the multimedia messaging app, which commissioned the survey.

HIGHLIGHT

A new study shows that while more video is being consumed than ever before in the Kingdom, there are major changes in viewing habits.

“With one of the highest levels of mobile Internet penetration, and one of the highest social messaging and media usage rates in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is poised for a mobile, short-form expansion that may even eclipse more established markets.”
For the survey, Snapchat commissioned the National Research Group, an independent market research company, to conduct a representative study of 869 Saudis.