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Iran launches YouTube-like video-sharing site

Country has unveiled its own version of YouTube for government-approved content, in line with its wider plans to build a domestic Internet.

Iran has unveiled a video-sharing Web site for Persian speakers which may be part of its wider plan to build a national intranet separate from the world wide Web.

Newswire AFP reported Sunday that the Web site which is called "Mehr", meaning affection in Farsi, targets Persian-speaking users around the world and aims to promote the Iranian culture.

Iran's video sharing site Mehr
Iran's video sharing site Mehr (source: mehr.ir)

AFP said the Web site competes against Google's YouTube which has content that the Iranian regime has labeled as inappropriate. PCMag reported that Mehr only shows government-approved videos.

On the topic of Mehr, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) deputy chief Lotfollah Siahkali said: "From now on, people can upload their short films on the Web site and access [IRIB] produced material."

The report noted that Iran has consistently censored YouTube since mid-2009. The country has been shutting down access to several foreign Internet as it tries to set up a national intranet. In September, it cut off access to Google's search and e-mail services which was believed to be in retaliation for the Internet giant hosting an anti-Islamic video on YouTube.

The government moved its e-government services offline in early August to protect against cyberattacks. It was planning to move its e-government services to its national intranet but experts said such a move is "tricky" as it will limit the accessibility to such services for citizens.