by WorldTribune Staff, April 26, 2018
Iran’s Supreme Cyberspace Council is pressing citizens to abandon the popular Telegram messaging app and embrace a new mobile app which comes with a “Death to America” emoji.
The domestically-produced Soroush app includes a series of emojis featuring a chador-clad woman clutching a picture of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and placards wishing death to Israel, America and Freemasons, the BBC noted in an April 25 report.
Iranian leadership blames the Telegram app for widespread anti-government protests that gripped the country late last year and early this year. About 50 million Iranians use the Telegram app.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is promoting the new app after closing down his account on Telegram and telling users to do the same.
“The activities of the presidency’s Telegram channel have stopped in support of domestic messaging apps,” state broadcaster IRIB reported last week.
The Soroush app currently claims five million users. It resembles Telegram in that it allows users to join channels, follow news, and conduct business online, the BBC report said, adding that “users don’t seem to be buying assurances by officials – including the supreme leader himself – that user privacy will be fully protected on the domestic app.”
The BBC noted that “One joke doing the rounds on social media says that Soroush’s three-tick message receipt notification (as opposed to Telegram’s two ticks) confirms that an intelligence officer has read the message in addition to the sender and receiver.”
Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and other officials continue to post tweets even though Twitter is officially banned in Iran.