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Iran's culture minister defends Facebook, says it's not a 'criminal application'

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August 14, 2013 - FILE photo of man silhouetted against a video screen with Facebook logo. (REUTERS)

Iran's culture minister has again spoken up in defense of social media, saying Facebook shouldn't be banned and that it's not a "criminal application."

Ali Jannati told the semi-official Fars news agency on Friday that he uses and posts on Facebook and that an overseer body should lift the existing ban. In the past, Jannati has advocated that all social media networks be accessible to Iranians.

Iran banned the networks over alleged "abuse" after opposition members widely used them during the 2009 unrest following re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Jannati's remarks underscore what has become a growing rift between the moderate-leaning government of new President Hassan Rouhani and Iran's hard-liners.

Rouhani doesn't have the authority to make decisions on freeing up social media, which is considered an internal security matter.