Around 450 users of social media apps, including Telegram, WhatsApp and Instagram, are to reportedly face trial after being arrested, detained or summoned in Iran, according to reports on Tuesday (23 August).

It is believed the Centre for Investigation of Organised Crime is behind the arrests, which monitors social media and seeks out evidence of immorality or subversion with a remit of defending the Islamic Republic against internal and external threats.

"These people were carrying out immoral activities, insulted religious beliefs or had illegal activities in the field of fashion," the Revolutionary Guard affiliated Gherdab website said, according to a report by Sky News.

Over 50% of Iran's 80 million population is online, even though Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are blocked. However, millions of Iranians bypass the ban through using virtual private networks (VPNs).

In May, President Hassan Rouhani was said to have headed up a committee and set a one-year deadline for foreign social media to hand over information and data on their Iranian users.

Also in May, the head of Tehran's cyber crimes court had said on state TV that authorities had arrested eight people for working in "un-Islamic" online modelling networks, singling out Instagram in particular.

The clampdown continued with the arrest of 53-year-old Mehdi Butorabi, the manager of the Persian Blog, as reported by the student news agency ISNA. The blog is very popular with thousands of young Iranians who use it to share their thoughts and opinions.

"This is a real battlefield. The clerics and seminary students should prepare to enter this field and fight against deviations and erroneous thoughts," Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying on his website.