TEHRAN: Meta sparked a controversy with the sudden removal of Instagram and Facebook accounts linked to Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, who boasted a substantial following of 5.1 million users.
The move, made without prior notice, has drawn attention to the company’s perceived pro-Israeli stance.
In 2023, KHAMENEI.IR, the Instagram account associated with Ayatollah Khamenei, ranked among the top 10 accounts of world leaders. Notably, posts on his Farsi-language account attracted over one hundred million views in the past three months alone. With a twelve-year history, the account boasts an impressive nine thousand posts and eighteen million comments.
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, now owns a quartet of platforms: Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger. Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, Meta provided a brief explanation for its actions, citing violations of its Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy as grounds for the account removals.
The timing of this move coincides with Ayatollah Khamenei’s vocal support for oppressed Palestinians and condemnation of the genocidal warfare in the Gaza Strip, a stance he has maintained since October 7th. Meta’s actions prompt questions about the role of social media platforms in regulating political discourse and expressions of support for contentious causes.
This incident underscores the delicate balance between freedom of speech and platform policies, especially concerning influential figures like Ayatollah Khamenei. While Meta’s platforms claim to promote free expression and diverse opinions, their practices often align closely with U.S. laws and policies, potentially stifling dissenting voices.
The removal of Ayatollah Khamenei’s accounts reveals two significant realities. Firstly, it challenges Western claims of upholding freedom of expression, showing a readiness to silence expressive voices. Secondly, it highlights broader support for the Israeli regime, which has faced condemnation for its actions against Palestinians.
This situation prompts a broader discussion about power dynamics in digital platforms and their impact on global conversations about geopolitics and social justice.
A Closer Look at Meta’s Pro-Israeli Allegiances
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has long displayed a pro-Israeli stance, which has drawn increased scrutiny, particularly in light of recent Israeli aggression in Gaza. Even before Meta’s recent actions, Zuckerberg’s intolerance towards opposing viewpoints was evident.
In 2020, following the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani by the U.S. military, Facebook, under Meta’s umbrella, swiftly intervened by banning hashtags such as #Soleimani and #WeAreTheNationOfImamHussain, which were used to express support for Soleimani.
These actions highlight Meta’s alignment with pro-Zionist stances and its willingness to exceed expectations in implementing restrictions, even beyond what the Israeli regime might anticipate.
Meta’s actions raise profound questions about the role of social media platforms in shaping political narratives and stifling dissent. By aligning with specific geopolitical agendas, Meta risks undermining trust in its commitment to free expression and exacerbating tensions in volatile regions.
Therefore, Zuckerberg’s alignment with pro-Israeli stances merits scrutiny, not only for its immediate consequences but also for its broader implications for digital freedoms and global discourse.