Study says 12% of Iranians support social media censorship

Financial Tribune- A recent study says 12% of Iranians believe that social media networks and applications should be filtered with immediate effect.

The first of its kind, the study was conducted last month by Iranian Student Polling Agency (ISPA) affiliated to the Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research or ‘Jihad Daneshgahi’, which is a subsidiary of the non-governmental Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution.

Working with a statistical sample of 1,500 people, the study showed that 62% of the participants believe that the state should have oversee all social media networks operating in Iran.

Only 12% of the respondents believed that there is no need for governmental oversight while an equal number said the social media networks should be filtered in its entirety. The remaining 14% were indifferent.

The research found that 41% of participants believe social media networks are beneficial to society as a whole, while 48% opposed the fast growing networks as harmful. Eleven percent were undecided.

Fake News

The study also questioned the sample group about news and reports made available through social media like Telegram and Facebook.

With the presidential elections on May 19, Iranian officials are keeping a close eye on social media and the dissemination of news and reports it deems incorrect and possibly  dangerous to social cohesion.

When participants in the survey were asked  to what degree they check the reliability of the news they read on social media networks, 35.7% said they “always” do so. This is while 17.1% said they “sometimes check” the source of the news and 39.6% of the respondents said they seldom do. The remaining 7% were unconcerned about the spread of fake news.

Education, Jokes in Social Media

The study also showed that 35% of those polled use Telegram as a source of educational material and 28% read news and analysis via this application. This is while 24% consider the application a source of entertainment by using channels sharing jokes.

Similarly with 28.8%, educational material had the biggest share in terms of the material forwarded by users. Moreover, the study showed 20.2% of Telegram users usually forward jokes and comedy memes to their contacts via the application.

A meme (pronounced meem) is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”. A meme is often a picture based with a caption attached to it to symbolize humor or irony.

Of social media platforms used in Iran, Telegram messenger has a 55% share and Instagram 23%.

Last year, the same study revealed that 38% of Iranians were using Telegram, the number has increased by 17%.

As for Instagram, 17% of Iranians were members of the photo sharing app in the month ending February 18 last year, the figure increased by 6% this year.

The study said each user spends an average 72 minutes on social media per day. This is while ISPA believes this number to be 120 minutes for most Iranian smartphone users.

Data published in December shows that Telegram Messenger has 170,000 Persian channels, 11,000 of which have more than 5,000 members. An estimated 45 million Iranians actively use the app.