Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School scanned 800,000 Persian language Wikipedia articles and found that 963 pages were blocked.
Iran’s austerity with respect to freedom of information is no secret. Iranians rely heavily on proxy servers to get their hand on international news, YouTube videos or friends on social media.
The report focused on the most popular information site on the web – Wikipedia – to see what the information the Islamic regime feels it should hide from its people.
The results are mind-boggling.
According to the report, the 936 blocked pages included articles about the BBC, the minority Bahá'í faith, state repression of protests following Iran’s 2009 presidential elections and even actresses Emma Watson and Kristen Stewart.
What do all these subjects have in common? Nothing.
However they can be broadly categorized under politics, journalism, the arts, religion, sex, sexuality, and human rights.
For an Islamic authoritarian state to ban anything related to sex and sexuality is one thing, but the report found that Iran banned 31 articles on sexual health and bodily functions - all of which were represented in a ‘scientific or public health manner.'
Keyword filtration blindly excludes any topic that could be interpreted as sexual or profane content.
Whether intentional or by ‘filtration-default,’ this level of censorship is in direct contrast to recent statements made by Iran’s new President, Hassan Rouhani, in which he spoke against online filteration.
“In the age of digital revolution, one cannot live or govern in quarantine,” Rouhani said in an interview earlier this year.
“Filtering has not even stopped people from accessing unethical [a reference to pornographic] websites. Widespread online filtering will only increase distrust between people and the state.”
While Iran’s new leadership is trying desperately to promote a more liberal image, these findings tell a very different story.
Here is a detailed infographic on the subject.