DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Meta has removed Instagram and Facebook accounts run on behalf of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after criticism over his support for Hamas after its Oct. 7 attack on Israel that sparked the monthslong war still raging in the Gaza Strip, the company confirmed Friday.
The company Meta, located in Menlo Park, California, did not provide details about why it took this action. However, they stated that the accounts were deleted for repeatedly breaking their policy on Dangerous Organizations and Individuals.
“Our platforms do not permit the presence of organizations or individuals with a violent agenda or involvement in violence. This includes those recognized as terrorists by the U.S. government.”
The Iranian delegation to the United Nations has not yet replied to a comment request.
The American government has imposed sanctions on Khamenei and his extensive network of supporters in Iran for a long time. In 2019, former President Donald Trump’s administration targeted Khamenei specifically as tensions escalated in the Middle East due to Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the nuclear deal between Tehran and other world powers.
Unfortunately, there has been increasing pressure for online platforms to take down content related to Khamenei in recent times. This push has intensified since the widespread demonstrations that occurred after Mahsa Amini’s death in 2022, which was reportedly caused by her arrest for not following Iran’s mandatory headscarf rule.
Khamenei has faced backlash for using Facebook in the past. The platform has been prohibited in Iran since the controversial presidential election of 2009 and the subsequent Green Movement demonstrations. In response to the protests surrounding Amini’s death, Iran also blocked Instagram and Meta’s WhatsApp messaging platform.
Khamenei continues to have an active profile on X, previously known as Twitter.
Khamenei and affiliated accounts linked to the highest leader expressed admiration for the Hamas assault on Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,200 individuals and the capture of approximately 250 others. Following the attack, Khamenei publicly supported Hamas in a speech, stating: “We show our respect to those who orchestrated the attack on the Zionist government.”
According to reports, Iran has supplied weapons and assistance to Hamas, although there is no evidence that they were involved in the October 7th assault. As a result, Israel’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip has resulted in the deaths of more than 27,000 Palestinians and has caused tension throughout the Middle East. Other militant groups supported by Iran, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, have also carried out attacks against Israel during this time period.
Meta’s decision was commended by Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League.
Greenblatt stated online that he has observed the individual utilizing these platforms for an extended period of time to provoke aggressive anti-Semitic actions, to validate aggressive anti-Zionist beliefs, and to issue threats of genocide.