Toosheh, Iranian Protests, and Internet Shutdowns

News is pouring out from Iran regarding the nationwide anti-government demonstrations. What began as a few gatherings of protesters in a couple of cities has now grown to widespread protests and clashes with the regime's security forces, resulting in the arrest of hundreds and the death of at least 20 individuals.

Photograph: AP

Photograph: AP

In response the regime has not only countered the demonstrations with its police forces, but has also shut down various internet and social media applications including Instagram and Telegram. Since more well-known apps such as Facebook and Twitter were already permanently banned in Iran, the shutdown of Instagram and Telegram equates to the forfeiture of the public's ability to digitally communicate and distribute information to each other. Furthermore, such national unrest has preceded many governments completely shutting down their respective country’s internet to prevent further protest planning and to filter news regarding possible government retaliation. In short, this blocking of social media apps could be only the beginning of more drastic strides to censor the access of information. 

Toosheh, NetFreedom Pioneers’ “knapsack” technology for Iranian audiences, has embraced this unique opportunity to distribute information to Iran’s public. Its ability to provide offline digital content has resulted in over 150,000 users installing Toosheh software since its creation, and its usage has tripled since the protests began. In just 16 hours Toosheh received 1000 requests for its software, and Toosheh’s website traffic has doubled. This means that those who do have internet access are checking out Toosheh and what it has to offer, perhaps in preparation for a possible internet shutdown.

Toosheh Channel covers the majority of the Middle Eastern region. 

Toosheh Channel covers the majority of the Middle Eastern region. 

Because of this special opportunity to empower the Iranian public, NetFreedom Pioneers’ co-founder and director has issued the following Calls to Action to support Toosheh.

SEND CONTENT

Should anyone have digital content that could be useful, educational, or inspirational for the Iranian public to access, please send it to [email protected]. Toosheh will upload content suggestions to its channel to be accessed by its users. Example of possible content include analyses of the protests, authentic protest videos, or safe activism materials. Please take into consideration that because Toosheh is for Persian audiences, Persian materials are best.

SPREAD THE WORD

Please spread word about Toosheh to your friends and family. We want as many as possible to know what Toosheh offers, especially those living in Iran. Should the Iranian regime shut down the internet, Toosheh will be even more of a crucial source of digital information. However Iranians will have needed to download Toosheh before an internet shutdown in order to thereafter utilize its offline technology. A short Persian video here describes the process of using Toosheh.

VOLUNTEER

Toosheh is currently seeking Persian speaking volunteers to aggregate and/or translate protest content for Iranians users. Please contact NFP or Toosheh through their provided “Contact” pages located here. 

DONATE

Increasing the amount of content Toosheh can send through its technology costs money. If you are willing and able, please donate to NetFreedom Pioneers, the 501c3 nonprofit organization running and hosting Toosheh. Click here to donate.

Please join us. Together we can make a difference.