More and more restrictive government regimes around the world are deciding that unfiltered social media platforms can be hotbeds of dissent when it comes to the usual adoring press coverage they favor. The latest country to try to steer authorized online behavior and approved messaging in their citizens is Iran.
It seems that Iran's officials were alarmed by the popularity among their citizenry of a messaging app called Telegram. So, they created one of their own, called Soroush (Farsi for the Angel Gabirel). And the theocracy and their intelligence services are using modern technology to reinforce some old favorite themes when it comes to the user experience. As with Telegram and other social media apps, Soroush chatterers can join groups, create channels, follow news, and send files, videos, pictures and audio.
Gizmodo Australia reported late last week that Soroush comes complete with its own custom set of special emojis (or 'stickers') designed especially to be sensitive to government-approved Iranian culture. One set in particular that is getting lots of worldwide attention features a veiled woman dressed in a black chador and holding up various bits of signage and messaging to suitably reflect common emotions. As one might expect, they include the usual smattering of all-purpose hearts and flowers, and a cluster of celebratory balloons.
But it wouldn't be state-sponsored agitprop without a few more special characters. According to the Gizmodo article and others, also included are "Death To America," "Death To Israel," and "Death to Influencers" smilies - or frownies, as the case may be - because you can't have enough emojis when you're inviting your buddies to the Two Minute Hate rally.
There's also a blissfully smiling woman holding a framed photo of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and another, dressed in pink with the message "Let's Go Pray".
But one other image in the set is getting very little notice in comparison among the worldwide press:
It reads, "Death To Freemasons."
They left out a "Death To Emmanuel Goldstein" one. Perhaps in version 2.0...