This investigation of the Iranian blogosphere provides an account of the impact that Internet censorship has had on blog discourse. It focuses on a sample of English-language Iranian weblogs inside Iran and the Iranian diaspora to investigate how their experiences of blogging differ in terms of content, character and motivation. The methods used to generate the data include a literature review and research trip, an online survey and a textual analysis of blog content. In analysing the data the researcher grounds theory in relation to previous research conducted by Herring et al (2004) and Nardi, Schiano and Gumbrecht (2004). It is a qualitative inquiry that establishes why and how blog patterns have emerged and what motivates these bloggers to maintain weblogs.
With the aim to explore processes of self-censorship it also considers how Iran’s long history of censoring activity and cultural paradoxes has influenced the spread of Internet access. Despite government attempts to control content through limiting connection speeds, blocking access to popular websites and arresting bloggers, Persian is the third most populous blogging language. Tough policies on freedom of expression and crackdowns on print media have all increased the importance of the Internet and consequently blogs as platforms for self-expression and self-empowerment. With this rise in active filtering Iranian bloggers have created new methods to counter limitations and undermine restrictions on social interactions.
The main findings of this research suggest that blogs in the diaspora are much more similar to those inside Iran than anticipated as bloggers post about similar topics for similar audiences. Self-censorship is a process commonly found across the entire Iranian blogosphere as authors seek to avoid filtering and the loss of their audience inside Iran. The strategies of self-censorship highlighted by this research include: the omission of direct personal evaluation, retreats to personal experiences, disclaimers, conversational transcripts and anonymity or pseudonymity.