Middle east

Meta removes supreme leader’s accounts in Iran 

Meta has removed accounts for repeated violations of the company's policies regarding dangerous organizations and individuals amid unprecedented tension between Washington and Tehran

On Thursday, Meta confirmed that it had banned the accounts of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on its platforms Facebook and Instagram, amidst strained relations between the United States and Iran due to the war in Gaza and Western pressures and sanctions imposed by the United States on Iranian leaders. 

A spokesperson for Meta stated, “We removed these accounts for repeated violations of our policies regarding dangerous organizations and individuals.” Khamenei, who has ruled Iran for about 35 years, had five million followers on Instagram. This social network, like Facebook, is banned in Iran but still used through “virtual private networks” (VPNs) that circumvent censorship. Content moderation related to this country poses a dilemma for Meta, between the pressure from non-governmental organizations concerned with human rights and the pressures exerted by authorities. 

The decision serves as a prominent example of the tensions in the relationship between Washington and Tehran, with ongoing US attacks on militias in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, while Khamenei openly criticizes US policies on his accounts, even inciting Iran’s allies in the region to launch attacks. In contrast, the website “X” still maintains an account for Khamenei, followed by millions of people, but site owner Elon Musk has not yet made a decision to block it. 

Khamenei has recently launched harsh attacks against the US administration due to attacks targeting the Revolutionary Guard in Syria. The United States continues to pressure Iran, both politically and financially, by imposing sanctions on leaders of the Revolutionary Guard and entities dealing with them. Generally, US regulations prohibit American individuals from dealing with certain designated individuals or entities. 

Non-US financial institutions and other entities engaging in certain transactions with sanctioned individuals also face the possibility of sanctions or law enforcement actions. Washington threatens to escalate attacks in the region following the deaths of three of its soldiers in a rocket attack believed to be carried out by Iranian-backed Iraqi Hezbollah militias, while Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stated that “America must stop using threatening language,” adding that it should “focus on a political solution.” He pledged that Iran’s response would be “decisive and immediate” in the event of an attack by the United States.

Since the October 7th attack by Hamas on settlements near Gaza and the Israeli response, the region has experienced unprecedented tension despite international and regional efforts to contain it.

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