Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Iranian leader’s office via AP)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Meta deleted Instagram and Facebook accounts run on behalf of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following criticism of his support for Hamas following its Oct. 7 attack on Israel that sparked months-long war that is still being fought in the Gaza Strip. the company confirmed on Friday.
Meta, based in Menlo Park, California, did not offer details about its reasoning. However, she said she 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 engage in violence to have a presence on our platforms,” the policy states. That includes those designated as terrorists by the United States government.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Khamenei and his vast patronage network inside Iran have long been the target of US sanctions. Khamenei himself has been the target of US sanctions since 2019 by then-President Donald Trump’s administration, when tensions began to rise in the Middle East over the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
However, pressure has increased on online platforms to remove Khamenei from office in recent years, particularly after the mass protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini in 2022 after her arrest allegedly for her wearing of the mandatory headscarf in Iran. .
Khamenei’s use of Facebook has drawn criticism in the past. The social network has been banned in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential election and the Green Movement protests that followed. Iran began blocking Meta’s Instagram and WhatsApp messaging service after protests over Amini’s death.
Khamenei still maintains an account on X, formerly Twitter.
Khamenei and accounts associated with the supreme leader had been praising the Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and took about 250 more hostage. Immediately after the attack, Khamenei backed Hamas in a speech, saying: “We kiss the hands of those who planned the attack against the Zionist regime.”
Iran has provided weapons and support to Hamas, although Tehran is not believed to have directed the October 7 attack. Since then, Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 27,000 Palestinians and sparked tensions across the Middle East. Iranian-backed militias, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, also armed by Iran, have since launched attacks against Israel.
Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League praised Meta’s decision.
“He has used these platforms for years to incite violent anti-Semitism, legitimize militant anti-Zionism, and issue genocidal threats,” Greenblatt wrote online.