There are reports today that Iran has blocked Facebook, apparently to "prevent supporters of the leading opposition candidate from using the site for his campaign". Opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi has more than 5200 supporters on the popular social networking site and is said to be gaining momentum against current Islamic Republic of Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

According to Radio Free Europe, Facebook is the 10th most popular site in Iran and political activists are becoming increasingly active on the site. This is not the first time Iran has blocked Facebook. In 2006 the site was banned for being "illegal" but was unblocked in February of this year. Many people do not believe that Facebook access will ever be permanent there.

The presidential elections in Iran are being held on June 12, 2009 and will be the country's 10th such election. There are 3 leading candidates right now. Incumbant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is running against Iran Reform Movement candidate and former Prime Minister Mousavi. Former Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament) Mehdi Karroubi, another Reformist candidate, also intends to run.

As All Facebook's Nick O'Neill puts it, "unfortunately for the Iranians, they have a regime in place that doesn't support freedom of speech and would prefer to run a dictatorship". Those of us who enjoy such freedoms should do our part to make sure that censorship like this never happens to us. We wish our brothers and sisters in Iran the best of luck.

Facebook Response:

When we first learned of this story we immediately contacted Facebook to see what they had to say. They were gracious to respond swiftly with this comment from a Facebook spokesperson:

"We are disappointed to learn of reports that users in Iran may not have access to
Facebook, especially at a time when voters are turning to the Internet as a source
of information about election candidates and their positions. We are investigating
these reports.

We believe that people around the world should be able to use Facebook to
communicate and share information with their friends, family and coworkers. It is
always a shame when a countries' cultural and political concerns lead to limits
being placed on the opportunity for sharing and expression that the Internet
provides."