Facebook closes Ayatollah Khamenei’s Arabic page

December 7, 2019 - 19:27

TEHRAN – Facebook has closed the Arabic page of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which had more than 100,000 followers.

According to Press TV, the page was closed after being recently put under restrictions for allegedly violating the social media giant’s terms of service.

It comes as many observers have criticized Facebook for what they consider the U.S.-based company’s political bias in dealing with online activity.

Last month, the U.S. State Department called on social media giants to take down the accounts of Ayatollah Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif amid protests over petrol prices, which prompted the government to shut off the internet.

“One of the things that we are calling on are social media like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter to shut down the accounts of Supreme Leader Khamenei, Foreign Minister Zarif and President Rouhani until they restore the internet to their own people,” U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Bloomberg.

In recent years, social media giants – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – have closed thousands of accounts allegedly tied to Iran and Russia under the pretext of fighting what they call “misinformation” campaigns.

In August 2018, Facebook announced it had targeted hundreds of accounts allegedly tied to Iran and Russia.

“We removed multiple pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. Some of this activity originated in Iran, and some originated in Russia,” it said.

The targets were identified as “networks of accounts misleading people about what they were doing,” Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said back then.

Among the accounts was one belonging to the Quest 4 Truth (Q4T) Iranian media organization, which promotes Islamic values.

Facebook further wrote in bold text, “We’ve removed Pages, groups and accounts that can be linked to sources the U.S. government has previously identified as Russian military intelligence services. This is unrelated to the activities we found in Iran.”

The Facebook investigation was prompted by a tip-off from cybersecurity firm FireEye.

FireEye has claimed the Iranian activity included “anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes” and advocacy of policies favorable to Iran such as the 2015 nuclear deal, to which the U.S. was a party before pulling out in May 2018 in defiance of the international community.

“It really shows it’s not just Russia that engages in this type of activity,” said Lee Foster, an information operations analyst with FireEye.

Facebook said it had worked closely with law enforcement in both the U.S. and the UK on the investigation, and had briefed the U.S. Treasury Department and State Department as Washington has imposed sanctions on Tehran.

In a simultaneous move, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) also acted on FireEye’s claims and removed hundreds of accounts said to be tied to Iranian “actors,” which are said to be promoting Iran’s geopolitical agenda.

MH/PA

Leave a Comment

3 + 1 =