Hassan Rouhani Will Now Begin Accepting Your Facebook Friend Requests

Four years after the nationwide ban on Facebook in Iran, you can now "like" Hassan Rouhani ... in more ways than one. Rouhani and 15 members of his cabinet have joined the site that was banned in 2009 just before the June elections. This was allegedly done to stifle any organization of opposition forces and protests, as well as criticism of the Islamic Republic. Rouhani, however, championed openness, transparency, and moderation throughout his campaign. In fact, the recent election of Rouhani is symbolic of a much more liberal and moderate regime unlike predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's. Many believe this government use of Facebook and Twitter are promising signs of reduced censorship.

Saeed Leilaz, a Tehran-based political analyst told the Associated Press, "Definitely filtering on Facebook will be lifted, and we will witness the elimination of filters (on the rest of) internet." Only last year, Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei created his own page, despite the ban against sites like Twitter and Facebook. According to the AP, Khamenei decreed the sites were permissible so long as they were not used for "corrupting or bad purposes." But is lifting the ban on Facebook and Twitter an easy out from the shroud of government censorship? These attempts to reach out on social media cannot replace formal government action in terms of diplomacy or foreign and domestic policies.

Yet, these initial moves bode well not only for the Iran general public, who have up until now used proxy sites to access filtered pages, but also for Iran's foreign policy and diplomatic ties. Unlike Ahmadinejad, Rouhani issued a statement following his confirmation as president promising to pursue amicable relationships with the international community in order to "enhance mutual trust." Last week's tweets from Rouhani wishing all Jews a "blessed Rosh Hashana" are preliminary indications of progress toward Iran's newfound diplomacy. How this will play out beyond timelines or newsfeeds has yet to be seen.

Some believe Rouhani's regime will in some ways mimic that of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami. Khatami's presidency began with an increase in social and cultural reforms particularly as it related to political life. He also emphasized greater dialogue within and throughout the international community. In fact, during his presidency U.S. bans on particular Iran imports, including medicine and agricultural products, were lifted.

However, opening up diplomatic borders and lines of communication is by no means indicative of a regime willing to negotiate national priorities, particularly Iran's nuclear program. Rouhani did however promise to increase transparency "by promoting step-by-step measures in order to reassure the international community about Iranian ambitions," according to an article in the Guardian

These are not instances of Rouhani's promises completely fulfilled, but rather signs­ — albeit positive ones — of what is to come. Will these open lines of communication pan out in the long run? It is much too early to tell.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Johana Bhuiyan

Johana Bhuiyan is the digital media reporter at Capital New York and former editorial assistant at World Policy Journal. She graduated from Lehigh University in the Spring of 2013 with a B.A. in journalism. With minors in religion and global studies, she is particularly interested in exploring the influence of culture and geography on the molding of religion. She hopes to one day produce a documentary series on this very topic as it relates to Islam. Her other interests include running, pilates, and a deep-seated passion for writing and reporting. As a former news editor of Lehigh University’s student-run newspaper, The Brown and White, she is pursuing a career in editing and reporting. Follow her journey at: www.itspronouncedbooyah.weebly.com

MORE FROM

Researchers show Twitter is far faster than the police at predicting riots

Tweets can predict a riot up to an hour before police, but that may not be a good thing.

China is building an incredibly cool "forest city" that will combat pollution

Sustainability and air quality are just the beginning.

Inside the dangerous operation to smuggle free information into North Korea

They use balloons, drones and networks of smugglers — who risk torture to bring flash drives into the DPRK.

Scientists just spotted 2 black holes flirting and dancing like awkward middle schoolers

The two could someday merge to become one.

I can't stop laughing at this amazing iOS 11 glitch that basically turns your texts into Jaden Smith tweets

One iOS 11 bug — god, I hope this is a bug — stands above the rest, and I can't stop laughing.

This biohacker implanted a transit card into his skin so he never has to get out his wallet

His name is Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, and he's got multiple chips in his arm.

Researchers show Twitter is far faster than the police at predicting riots

Tweets can predict a riot up to an hour before police, but that may not be a good thing.

China is building an incredibly cool "forest city" that will combat pollution

Sustainability and air quality are just the beginning.

Inside the dangerous operation to smuggle free information into North Korea

They use balloons, drones and networks of smugglers — who risk torture to bring flash drives into the DPRK.

Scientists just spotted 2 black holes flirting and dancing like awkward middle schoolers

The two could someday merge to become one.

I can't stop laughing at this amazing iOS 11 glitch that basically turns your texts into Jaden Smith tweets

One iOS 11 bug — god, I hope this is a bug — stands above the rest, and I can't stop laughing.

This biohacker implanted a transit card into his skin so he never has to get out his wallet

His name is Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, and he's got multiple chips in his arm.