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Rules Announced for Telegram Use in Election Campaign

Telegram is being closely monitored for the upcoming election
Telegram remains the most popular way of communicating in the country of 80 million people. Telegram remains the most popular way of communicating in the country of 80 million people.
Iran is going to hold the 12th presidential election and election for city and rural councils on the same day

The judiciary said it has published new regulations on the use of Telegram messenger, the most widely used mobile communications application in Iran, related to in campaign activities for the May 19 presidential elections.

It is believed that the election for the next president will be hotly contested with several factions vying for the second top job in the country. Registration for the race began on April 11 with the application process open to all. However, only a select few will make the cut.

Iran is going to hold the 12th presidential election and election for city and rural councils on the same day.

The Committee for Determining Instances of Criminal Content (CDICC), a group working under the supervision of the attorney general, has announced regulations on the appropriate use of Telegram ahead of the vote, a member of the committee told Tasnim News Agency on Monday.

Ramezan Ali Sobhanifar said individuals and groups using the popular mobile messaging app will have to comply with the election campaigning rules, stressing that “offense or smear campaigns” in the Telegram channels will be monitored and those responsible will be prosecuted.

People will face prosecution for insulting the candidates, he warned. However, he did not say how they will be tracked as many people use pseudonyms on the application.  

 Only Official Telegram Channels

Prior to the April decree by the judiciary, in March authorities had said candidates can only use local social networks for their online advertisements. The head of Iran’s High Council of Cyberspace, Abolhassan Firouzabadi said at the time.

He said the candidates “should use only Telegram messenger channels which have been registered with the election committee.”

Telegram is not a local social messaging service. It is owned by Russian brothers based in Germany.  

Firouzabadi said “countering fake news” is one of the aims behind the rare decision. The Culture Ministry will release a list of the channels that have operating permits, he noted.

 11,000 Channels

More than 3,000 Telegram channels with over 5,000 members  registered with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance following an announcement by the government to do so in January.  

Roughly 11,000 channels created by Iranian users have over 5,000 members each.

An estimated 45 million Iranians actively use Telegram messenger beating its closest rival Whatsapp by millions of users.

The number of eligible voters in the upcoming election is estimated to be around 1.5 million higher than the 50.5 million in the previous round four years ago when President Hassan Rouhani won by a landslide against a raft of mostly conservative opponents.

Up until Tuesday Rouhani had not officially said whether or not he would seek a second and final term.

 

 

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