If travel doesn't rime with digital detox for you, and you want to share your trip with your friends online, there are a few things to know in order to use social media in Iran.
For some very popular mobile applications and websites, such as Whatsapp, Gmail, and Instagram, there is no specific difficulty using them in Iran. Actually, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks in Iran, with 24 million active users, which rank the country as the world’s 7th Instagram user! But it’s different for some other popular ones: Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, which are forbidden to access formally by government.
Indeed, because the Internet is filtered in Iran, accessing some websites can be forbidden. It means that when trying to log in Facebook, for example, your navigator will show an error message or your mobile application won't refresh. This social network is indeed banned, as well as Messenger, Twitter, and Telegram, the favorite messaging app of Iranians.
Yet, it doesn't prevent Iranians from using these social media, who have millions of users in Iran. Here is the simple trick they use to bypass this issue: connecting your phone or computer to a VPN. A VPN, for "Virtual Private Network", enable you to overcome the firewalls by changing your IP location to servers abroad.
The first step is to install a VPN application prior to your arrival in Iran. Indeed, it might be more complicated to do so while in the country. In that case, you can download a VPN application from some websites and App stores, as well as receiving it from a friend by a sharing application like “Share It”. Otherwise, there are many free VPN to download on the Apple Store and Google Play.
For iOS, we recommend using "Turbo VPN", "VPN Master", and "ThunderVPN". For Android phones, we suggest "Hotspot Shield", “Psiphone”, and "ExpressVPN". It is advised to download at least two different applications, in case one would not work properly.
How to access social media with a VPN
Once in Iran, there is nothing easier: simply launch the VPN application first, connect to a foreign server, and then you can access any website or application without restriction, as you usually do. Try to disconnect your VPN when you don't need it. It will save your battery and also avoid an unnecessary higher data consumption.
That's all you need to know to enjoy accessing your favorite social media during your trip! With a local sim card, 3G and 4G internet is cheap and fast, and you will have online access almost everywhere. Many cafes also offer free WiFi to their customers. All this should be enough to enable you to give news of your trip to your family, and make your friends astonished with your lovely pictures of Iran!
Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg