Meta Removes Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Instagram, Facebook Accounts

It has been a growing trend for the US government and US-based media platforms to censor and cancel Iranian state media entities. For example the biggest instance came in 2021 when the US Justice Department seized state-run PressTV’s domain

The DOJ had seized a total of “33 Iranian government-affiliated media websites, as well as three of the Iraqi group Kataeb Hezbollah, which it said were hosted on US-owned domains in violation of sanctions,” according to a statement at the time. 

This was after it became clear that attempts to revive the JCPOA nuclear deal with the US and Europeans had failed, and as Iran-linked attacks on US based in Syria and Iraq increased. In the wake of last month’s drone strike on a Jordanian base which killed three Marines, likely from a pro-Iran militia in Syria or Iraq, this drive to remove Iranian state social media accounts has returned.

On Thursday Meta removed the Instagram and Facebook accounts of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The action is said to be largely the result of pressure from Israeli lobby groups in the wake of the Oct.7 terror attacks on southern Israel. Iranian leaders frequently use the term “Zionist entity” in English messaging and will not say “Israel” – which has been flagged as a violation of Meta’s hate speech policies. 

“We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy,” a Meta spokesperson confirmed to English-language Arab news outlet Middle East Eye.

Meta cited its policy of not allowing “organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence” on its.

Ayatollah Khamenei has used his official media accounts to post in support of the Palestinian plight, and Tehran has long stood accused of backing Hamas, which is listed by the US and many European countries as a terrorist organization.

Per MEE’s figurs, “Khamenei’s Persian-language account had more than 5.1 million followers, while his English-language account had more than 204,000.”

Iranian opposition groups have also long lobbied to get Iranian leaders banned from Western social media platforms, particularly in wake of the recent ‘anti-hijab’ protests led by women in Iranian cities, which resulted in a harsh security services crackdown.

However, critics of these censorship policies have argued that there are fewer and fewer avenues left whereby an international audience can gain insight into what Tehran is thinking. Often accounts like the Ayatollah’s Instagram or X are used to communicate official statements in multiple languages to the West.

Additionally, in many cases state media are the first to report major breaking events such as bombings or assassinations within the country, or instances of alleged Israeli sabotage on Iranian nuclear facilities. Thus the opposing argument would be that such vital information is needed, and that these accounts should be kept active.


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