Silicon Valley tech giant Meta removed the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Thursday.
Analysts speculate the company took down the accounts in response to pressure from pro-Israel groups after the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas on southern Israel.
Although Iran insists and the U.S. acknowledges that the Shia majority Islamic nation did not have anything to do with the attacks in October, critics have accused Khamenei of praising Hamas’ actions on Oct. 7 that led to the deaths of 1,200 Israelis and took dozens hostage.
Meta Removes Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei's Instagram, Facebook Accounts https://t.co/9gJtP7vhO9
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) February 10, 2024
“God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region,” Khamenei posted on Oct. 7 with a video of civilians running for their lives from terrorist attackers.
“God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region,” he posted on Dec. 23 to X, formerly Twitter.
Iranian leaders often refuse to use the name “Israel” in communications and instead call the Jewish Middle Eastern nation the “Zionist entity.” Users have flagged the term as a violation of the hate speech rules in Meta’s content policy.
“We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy,” a Meta spokesperson told Middle East Eye, an English-language Arab news outlet.
Meta removes accounts for Iran’s supreme leader from Facebook and Instagram https://t.co/oPinliMTJf
— MarketWatch (@MarketWatch) February 9, 2024
According to figures the Middle East Eye published, “Khamenei’s Persian-language account had more than 5.1 million followers, while his English-language account had more than 204,000.”
Under its hate speech policy, Meta removes “organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence” from its platforms.
Censorship or cancellation of Iranian state media accounts by the U.S. government and U.S. social media platforms has become more common in recent times. The U.S. Justice Department, for example, seized Iranian PressTV’s domain in 2021.
The DOJ made a statement at the time announcing the Justice Department had seized “33 Iranian government-affiliated media websites, as well as three of the Iraqi group Kataeb Hezbollah,” which the groups hosted on US-owned domains in violation of international sanctions against Iran by the United States.