Meta Platforms has removed two Instagram accounts belonging to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei following months of pressure from pro-Israel groups.
The company led by Mark Zuckerberg said it removed two of Khamenei’s accounts on Feb. 8. The Iranian leader’s Persian-language account had more than 5.1 million followers, while his English-language account had more than 204,000.
The Iranian leader reportedly praised Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack against Israel on social media. Khamenei also reportedly backed Palestinian resistance against Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, as well as the attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by the Yemeni Houthi rebels that Tehran is backing. (Related: Iranian supreme leader praises Hamas, warns Israel of “greater disaster” if it continues to bomb civilians in Gaza.)
“We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy,” a Meta spokesperson told Middle East Eye (MEE). Under the aforementioned policy, the tech company can remove “organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence.”
The decision to ban Khamenei did not sit well for Iran. Academic and former Iranian government advisor Mohammad Marandi accused Meta of hypocrisy. According to him, Israeli officials had not faced similar bans over their support for their country’s actions in Gaza. Israel has been relentlessly bombing the Gazan population following the Oct. 7 attack.
“Many thousands of Iranians, including myself, have had their Facebook and Instagram accounts suspended or deleted – so this isn’t unexpected,” Marandi said. “Khamenei is the only world leader that supports and empowers the resistance in Palestine. That is his crime.”
This was not the first time Khamenei, who ascended to power after the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, was banned on the platform. In 2019, Khamenei’s accounts on Instagram were suspended and later restored.
“Biased” Meta denounced for allowing anti-Khamenei slogan
According to MEE, “there have been repeated calls from Iranian opposition and pro-Israel campaigners to ban Khamenei’s social media accounts – particularly in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel.” It added that both Tehran and Washington have denied the Islamic Republic’s involvement in the attacks.
“Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets have been banned in Iran for many years, though users have gotten around the restrictions using VPNs [virtual private networks]. Despite the ban, a number of Iranian officials – including Khamenei – have had accounts on the platforms.”
Prior to the ban on Khamenei’s two Instagram accounts, Meta had been previously involved in an issue over the Iranian leader. In January 2023, the company said it would allow the slogan “Death to Khamenei” on its platforms. The slogan emerged in the wake of mass protests over the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini following her arrest for an inappropriately worn head covering.
Meta’s Oversight Board overturned the company’s decision to remove a Facebook post that featured the slogan, arguing that it did not violate the company’s Violent Threats policy. It expounded that the phrase is often used to mean “down with Khamenei.”
“In the context of the post and the broader social, political and linguistic situation in Iran … ‘death to Khamenei’ should be understood as ‘down with.’ It is a rhetorical, political slogan – not a credible threat.”
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Watch Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warn that the Zionist regime “will be eliminated from the Earth” below.
This video is from the Cynthia’s Pursuit of Truth channel on Brighteon.com.
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