Iranians Are Finally Allowed to Send Photos via Cellphone

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 3 2014 2:15 PM

Sending a Photo in Tehran

Now possible in Iran.

Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, in a rare victory for Iran’s relatively moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian government granted 3G and 4G licenses to Iran’s two mobile operators. Iranians can now, for the first time, use smartphones to visit websites, make video calls, use social media apps, and send pictures.

When President Rouhani was elected last year, he was hailed as a sign of a more open Iranian future. But despite efforts to allow more, better Internet access, he found opposition in the form of the country’s stricter higher-ups, clerics and commanders alike. They argue that the Internet is poised to spread immorality and impurity.


But in a speech to clerics on Monday, Rouhani made clear, “We cannot shut the gates of the world to our young generation.”

Internet access is just one of many fronts on which Rouhani has fought hardliners, who want the president to reform Iran’s foreign and economic, but not social, policy. But so, too, is it a significant one. Change, or at least symbols thereof, has come in Iran before through technological transition.  After the elections of 2009, for example, the Iranian Green Movement took to Twitter to voice dissent both in Iran and through the wider world. And though later analysis made clear that the so-called “Twitter revolution” may have been more of a Western narrative than an Iranian reality, the 140 character communications did, at least to some extent, allow events in Iran to be broadcast far beyond it.

And so, no, the revolution will not be tweeted. But the evolution toward a more progressive Iran? It might be. With a photo attached.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Emily Tamkin is an editorial intern at Slate and a M.Phil. candidate in Russian and East European studies at Oxford. Follow her on Twitter.  


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 18 2014 1:34 PM Americans Fault Obama for Giving Them Exactly the Anti-ISIS Strategy They Want
Sept. 18 2014 2:18 PM The NFL Is Not a Nonprofit So why does it get to act like one?
Sept. 18 2014 2:00 PM On the Death of My Homophobic Dog I named him Liberace, but I couldn’t have chosen a less appropriate namesake for this coarse, emotionally withholding Norwich terrier.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Everyday That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 2:03 PM Ryan Adams’ New Song Is a Reminder That He’s One of His Generation’s Best Songwriters
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 1:24 PM Can the Celebrities Whose Photos Were Stolen Really Sue Apple? It may be harder to prove “harm” than it seems.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.