Iran sucks at censoring apps, so the Persian diaspora is using them for unfiltered political discussion

With a (symbolic) (but it's a potent symbol) election looming in Iran, the global Persian diaspora is not lacking for news organs that are producing the kind of unfiltered political news that would get you jailed or killed in Iran.



Iran's "Halal Internet" practices extensive censorship that segregates this kind of news from Iranians themselves, but the Halal Internet has an app-shaped hole in it -- the network surveillance and censorship appliances used by the Iranian government are not smart enough to block apps.

Maziar Bahari is a dissident, exiled Iranian journalist who was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for 118 days in 2009. Now he runs Iranwire, a leading Persian politics site. They've just launched Sandoogh96 (Vote 2017), an app that publishes independent political news. Word of the app is spreading in Iran, and it's challenging the dominant narrative.

If you have Persian-speaking friends and you'd like to send them some political reading, there's always this edition of Little Brother, which is a high-quality, free translation created by Iranian expats.


Bahari, who now lives in London and directs the online news organization IranWire, hopes to make the process of picking a candidate in such an environment a little easier with new app called Sandoogh96, or Vote2017 in English. It strips away the government spin and helps Iranians figure out which candidates’ views align most closely with their own. It utilizes a Tinder-like interface, in which users swipe left or right depending on whether they agree or disagree with a given policy proposal, until they find their perfect match. The app includes information on where candidates stand on women’s rights, foreign policy, economics, and a range of other issues, as well as local news from IranWire’s network of citizen journalists.

This App Lets Iranians Swipe Past Political Propaganda [Issie Lapowskie/Wired]