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Iran Launches YouTube Clone 'Mehr.Ir' In Latest State Attack On Google

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Iran has launched its own version of YouTube in an apparent attempt to curb Google's power within its borders, and control its citizens' access to content it deems offensive.

The website, Mehr.ir, is named after the Farsi word for 'affection'.

It supposedly allows people to upload short films and access government-produced videos, music and other short clips.

It also cites a desire to promote Iranian culture, and provide a place for Persian-speaking users to share content. (And no, it doesn't appear to have a version of Gangnam Style).

But only videos 'approved' by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting will appear on the site, leading to the strong suspicion that its real aim is to extend censorship.

"From now on, people can upload their short films on the website and access (IRIB) produced material," said IRIB deputy chief Lotfollah Siahkali, according to AFP.

Iran was among those countries which led the uproar over an anti-Islamic film discovered on YouTube earlier this year, 'Innocent of Muslims'.

The clip, which was uploaded in July 2012, led to widespread protests in many Muslim countries, and resulted in the deaths of 75 people.

The Iranian regime has also fought to control its citizens access to other foreign websites, including Facebook and Twitter, while implementing occasional and so far temporary bans on all Google services, including Gmail.

It has been claimed that Iran's ultimate aim is to build a 'National Internet' which would not include any content offensive to the Iranian government.

In March US President Barack Obama said Iran was attempting to build an "electronic curtain" to stop the flow of ideas and information into the country.

"America seeks a dialogue to hear your views and understand your aspirations," he said - in a video posted on YouTube.

"This will be achieved by establishing greater access to the internet for Iranian citizens."

Millions of Iranians are able to access the wider internet through virtual private networks and other anonymous browsing software - which is itself illegal to sell in the country.