Iran Media Program

Document Type


Date of this Version



Using proxy servers in Iran, researchers Collin Anderson and Nima Nazeri identified every blocked Persian language Wikipedia article and divided blocked pages into ten categories to determine the type of content state censors are most adverse. In total, 963 blocked articles were found, covering a range of socio-political and sexual content including politics, journalism, the arts, religion, sex, sexuality, and human rights. Censors repeatedly targeted Wikipedia pages about government rivals, minority religious beliefs, and criticisms of the state, officials, and the police. Just under half of the blocked Wiki-pages are biographies, including pages about individuals the authorities have allegedly detained or killed. Based on prior research, it is known that Iran’s Internet filtration relies on blacklists of specifically designated URLs and URL keywords. Keyword filtration blindly blocks pages that contain prohibited character patterns in the URL. Sexual content is the main target of keywords, for example most keywords are sexual and/or profane terms. We found dozens of pages that seem to be unintentionally censored by keyword filtering, meaning that they were misidentified as sexual or profane and contained no content likely to offend Iranian authorities.



Date Posted: 06 February 2017