Iran has developed its own version of YouTube that will only allow content on it approved by the government’s regime.
Mehr, or affection in Farsi, is looking for Persian speaking users and its aim is to promote and cultivate Iranian culture, AFP reports. The URL YouTube.IR redirects to Fars TV. Right now, Mehr – found at http://ir.mehr.ir – appears to be down, but it is expected to share content specific to Iran, such as music clips. Users will be able to submit their own content.
The country has blocked YouTube since 2009, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s electino win was contested and a wave of protest resulted in the state cracking down on dissent. According to politicians and political commentators in the West, Iran wants to censor content that will undermine the influence or rule of the regime.
Criticism from the United States has been liberally meted out, and some politicians accuse the country of trying to shield its citizens from the web. It is thought Iran’s censorship is the reasoning behind the US’ ‘internet in a suitcase’, which would provide a network free from the state’s interference.
Although VPNs are illegal to sell in Iran, much of the country’s population uses them to wriggle around censorship.
Mehr.IR is part of the country’s plans to establish its own working intranet instead of allowing people to connect to the wider web, like North Korea’s, detailed in this BBC report.