Iran opens up access to Twitter and Facebook for the first time since 2009

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Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks are back online in Iran.

It’s been four years since the government shut off access to most social media during protests following the 2009 presidential elections. But a new administration, elected in June, has vowed to improve communications in Iran and liberalize access to the internet. President Hassan Rouhani is himself on Twitter.

The first reports of unrestricted access to social media came from Western media reporters and others in Tehran.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the newfound access applied to the whole country or just to parts of it. Even those who reported accessing Twitter and Facebook with no restrictions said that other websites were still blocked. And with no official announcement from the government, it remained possible that the access was accidental or temporary.

People inside Iran have usually been able to get around government censorship of the internet with virtual private networks (VPNs) that spoof their locations. But VPNs can be arduous and spotty, and the government has tried to close that loophole.