Iran blocks Facebook as opponent uses it to gain votes in election

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The Iranian government has blocked the popular social networking website Facebook in an apparent attempt, to many critics, to silence his opposition, especially one who made it a campaign tool, as the country prepares itself for an election next month.

This comes as presidential candidate for the reformist side Mir Hossein Mousavi has been using it gain several youth votes. This became apparent, according to the BBC, as CNN staff were not able to access the website, but were instead greeted with the message in Farsi that said “Access to this site is not possible.”

As of writing, the candidate has managed to get over 5,800 supporters.

While the social networking website has expressed its disapproval, there has not been any comment on why the website was blocked by the current government. Followers for the candidate, however, remain strong as supporters are now emailing possible ways to view the site.

Ironically, while Facebook has been blocked, his website has not been blocked by the Government. Meanwhile, there have also been sites that are in support to current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is seeking a second term in office, but these are not government approved.

Electoral campaigns recently have now started using social networks and many websites to gain the youth vote. Australia’s election in 2007 saw both previous Prime Minister John Howard and his successor Kevin Rudd use popular social networking websites Facebook and MySpace, with Rudd gaining more followers than Howard. Their web profiles also included YouTube, where messages were posted and their electoral promises.

But the US election in 2008 saw the popularisation of this method by current President Barack Obama, where his campaign saw the inclusion of its own social networking site, helping to gain millions and millions of donations to his campaign, and also included profiles on both Facebook and MySpace, but also many niche sites like LinkedIn. Profiles for Twitter and YouTube were also made. Rival John McCain had also used social networks in his campaign.