Iran just introduced their version of YouTube on Monday morning. This new website was designed to create a government-sanctioned alternative to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s popular video sharing website.
The new website is called Mehr (which means kindness and affection in Farsi) and it’s primary use is to promote Iranian artists and Islamic culture. This won’t be the first video website for Iran, as they already have websites called Aparat and it’s in conjunction with another popular social media site called Cloob.
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According to Islamic Republic Radio Broadcasting (which owns the new video sharing website) deputy chief director Lotfollah Siahkali, users can upload their videos directly onto the site, or they can visit the website to access the videos. Unfortunately for Mehr users, slow download speeds have been affecting the website and, as of Monday afternoon, the website has been hard to access.
In Iran, the most popular social media websites like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter, and YouTube are banned. It’s no surprise the country is trying to fill up that void with websites that are similar, but are Islamic-friendly. Many Iranian officials say that Western culture is waging a soft war on their culture.
Right now there is no word on whether Mehr will be closely monitored or not.
It should be interesting to see how Iran responds to Mehr. I think it sounds like a good idea, but I’m not sure if it will completely fill the void that many people may be looking for, especially since many Iranians already know how to get around the ban and access popular Western social media websites. Only time will tell how Mehr will fare.
YouTube was originally banned in Iran six years ago, after an offensive video was posted online. Subsequently, other social media websites were also banned in Iran.