Meta blocks Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei from Facebook and Instagram

Meta has banned Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from Facebook and Instagram, restricting his digital reach amid Iran-backed militias’ attacks on U.S. forces.

Accounts for Mr. Khamenei were removed from Meta’s platforms earlier this week.

“We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy,” Meta said in a statement.

Meta‘s policy prevents people and groups that proclaim a violent mission or who conduct violence from having a presence on its platforms.

Iran-backed militias have launched more than 150 attacks against U.S. troops in the Middle East since Iran-backed Hamas struck Israel on Oct. 7, according to the Pentagon.

Both Facebook and Instagram are blocked in Iran, but the platform has served as a mechanism for Iran to monitor critics and spread its message to outsiders.

For example, former Facebook employee Behdad Esfahbod was imprisoned in Iran in 2020 and forced to agree to spy on Westerners for Iran to secure his release.

After being released from Tehran’s Evin Prison in 2020, Mr. Esfahbod told The Washington Times he did not spy for Iran as the regime pressured him to do. Mr. Esfahbod said then that the regime did not express interest in his Facebook co-workers but wanted him to spy on activists working to ensure an open internet and freedom in Iran.

As Iran-backed groups’ attacks on U.S. troops have escalated, American social media platforms have faced pressure to restrict the Iranian leader’s access online.

Journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, whose opposition to the Iranian regime made her a target for kidnappers while living in the U.S., has pressured Elon Musk to ban Mr. Khamenei from the X platform too.

Ms. Alinejad implored Mr. Musk on Thursday to follow Meta’s lead and kick the Iranian leader out of X.

“The time has come for @X to #BanKhanenei NOW while he is using the platform to support its terrorist proxies, like Hamas and Houthi,” Ms. Alinejad said on X.

Mr. Khamenei’s X accounts, displaying his tweets in languages from Arabic to English, remain active on X as of Friday afternoon.

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