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Meta Removes Iranian Supreme Leader's Social Media Accounts Over Support for Hamas



In a move that underscores the ongoing debate over online platform moderation and political influence, Meta has announced the removal of Instagram and Facebook accounts associated with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The decision follows criticism of Khamenei's support for Hamas, particularly in light of the group's October 7 attack on Israel, which triggered a protracted conflict in the Gaza Strip.



Meta, headquartered in Menlo Park, California, confirmed on Friday that it had taken action against the accounts, citing repeated violations of its Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy. This policy prohibits the presence of entities or individuals promoting violence, including those designated as terrorists by the United States government. Khamenei's accounts were removed in accordance with this policy, though Meta did not provide specific details regarding its decision-making process.



The move comes amid mounting pressure on online platforms to address the online presence of Khamenei, especially following significant events such as the widespread protests that ensued after the death of Mahsa Amini in 2022. Amini's death, allegedly linked to her defiance of Iran's mandatory headscarf law, sparked outrage and intensified calls for action against Khamenei's online activities.



While Facebook remains inaccessible in Iran since the 2009 presidential election and subsequent protests, Khamenei has continued to utilize social media platforms, including Twitter, under the name X. However, Meta's recent actions have now limited his reach on their platforms.

Khamenei's vocal support for Hamas following its attack on Israel has drawn significant criticism. In a speech immediately following the assault, Khamenei lauded the perpetrators, stating, "We kiss the hands of those who planned the attack on the Zionist regime." Despite Iran's longstanding backing of Hamas, it's worth noting that Tehran is not believed to have directly orchestrated the October 7 attack.



The conflict between Israel and Hamas, which ensued after the attack, has resulted in substantial casualties, with over 27,000 Palestinians killed and hundreds taken hostage. Furthermore, tensions have escalated across the wider Middle East, with Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen launching attacks against Israel in solidarity with Hamas.



Meta's decision to remove Khamenei's accounts reflects the ongoing challenge faced by social media companies in balancing freedom of expression with the need to curb the spread of violent rhetoric and extremist ideologies on their platforms.

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