Mark Zuckerberg-owned 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. In October 2023, Hamas attacked Israel, sparking a war that is still raging in the Gaza Strip, taking the lives of several thousands of civilians in Palestine and Israel. Meta confirmed the removal of accounts associated with Khamenei. The company, however, did not offer any specifics about its reasoning. Meta said it removed the accounts “for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy.”
“We do not allow organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on our platforms,” the policy states. That includes those designated as terrorists by the U.S. government.
Khamenei's Persian-language account had more than 5.1 million followers, while his English-language account had more than 204,000. Khamenei, who has been in power since the death of his predecessor Ruhollah Khomenei in 1989, previously had accounts suspended on Instagram in 2019, but they were later restored.
Globally, pressure has been mounting on online platforms to remove Khamenei, particularly after the mass protests that followed the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini. Amini was arrested allegedly over how she wore the headscarf and her death in police custody triggered a wave of protests in Iran and around the world.
Instagram and Facebook are banned in Iran, but Iranians use virtual private networks to circumvent restrictions and access prohibited websites or apps, including the US-owned Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.