Iran launches own version of YouTube

Following blocks on YouTube earlier this year, Iran has launched its own video sharing alternative offering only ‘appropriate’ content.

Called Mehr – the name of a Zoroastrian god of truth – the site is intended to promote Iranian and Islamic culture and artists.

Content will be supplied by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRAB) as well as by members of the public – once it’s been approved by the Iranian government. Right now, though, it’s impossible to see what an Iranian LOL cat looks like, as the site appears to be down.

Iran has long founght against internet content it sees as blasphemous, first banning YouTube in 2009, after the disputed elections that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Earlier this year, it said it was planning to create its own, domestic internet, partly in response to an anti-Islamic film trailer posted on YouTube which led to riots across the Middle East. It said this was a defensive move, with Western writers and governments waging a ‘soft war’ against Islamic values.

At the same time, it blocked access to Google Search, Gmail and YouTube. It says it has already moved government agencies and offices onto the new network, and that citizens should be moved across by next March.

But the country’s sporadic blocks on social media and other services have already prompted many Iranians to find ways to circumvent it, such as using virtual private networks.