Meta Suspends Iran’s Supreme Leader From Facebook, Instagram

Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, confirmed on Friday that it had removed the accounts of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from its platforms. The suspension comes as multiple American media companies are working to limit the digital presence of Iranian state and affiliated media inside the U.S.

The removal of Khamenei’s accounts was largely driven by criticism over his support for Hamas, particularly following the October 7 attack on Israel just outside of Gaza. Meta’s decision underscores its commitment to enforcing its Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy, prohibiting entities that promote violence from using its platforms. This policy is vital in preventing the spread of hateful ideologies and ensuring the safety of the digital community.

Ayatollah Khamenei has been a controversial figure, leveraging social media to express support for Hamas and the Palestinian cause. His accounts, which had millions of followers, have been accused of violating Meta’s policies against promoting violence. The U.S. and many European countries list Hamas as a terrorist organization, further complicating the legitimacy of Khamenei’s online activities.

Critics argue that such censorship limits the international community’s understanding of Tehran’s perspective. They contend that state media and accounts like Khamenei’s are crucial in communicating official statements and reporting on significant events within Iran and its foreign policy. However, the consistent promotion of organizations listed as terrorists by the U.S. government, such as Hamas, underscores the necessity of Meta’s actions.

Pressure on online platforms to address content from Iranian leaders has intensified over the years, notably after the mass protests following Mahsa Amini’s death in 2022. Khamenei’s use of social media has been particularly scrutinized, given the violent rhetoric and support for attacks against Israel. The decision by Meta to remove Khamenei’s accounts is a clear stance against the use of their platforms to incite violence and hate.

Meta’s decision has been praised by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, which recognizes the importance of countering incitement and violent antisemitism online. It reflects a broader effort to hold individuals and organizations accountable for their digital conduct.