Instagram and also Facebook are removing posts that support Qassem Soleimani; a top Iranian general and leader who was killed in a U.S.-sanctioned airstrike, according to media reports.
It was garnered that Iranian journalists, influencers, as well as human rights activists have had posts about Soleimani; if not their entire accounts removed from the platform.
Instagram is one of the few Western social media sites not blocked in Iran.
As such, many Iranians posted about Soleimani after his death. Facebook is blocked (as well as Twitter), but some people access it through VPN.
Facebook, which owns Instagram; says that it is complying with United States sanctions against Iran by removing the posts and accounts.
“We operate under U.S. sanctions laws; including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson also said that people who feel like their posts were wrongfully removed can go through the appeals process.
Meanwhile, Iran government spokesperson Ali Rabiei called the move “undemocratic.”
He said on Twitter, “In an undemocratic and unashamed action; Instagram has blocked an innocence nations’ voice protesting to the assesination of General Soleimani; while the real terrorists have been given an open voice. The stick behind democracy and media freedom is displayed in the nick of time.“
In an undemocratic and unashmed action,Instagram has blocked an innocence nations' voice protesting to the assesination ofGeneral #Soleimani,while the real terrorists have been given an open voice.The stick behind the democracy and media freedom is displayed in the nick of time
— Alirabiei (@Alirabiei_ir) January 6, 2020
Now, the Iranian state media stated that the government has called for nationwide legal action against Instagram; and has even created a portal for Iranians to submit posts that have been removed.
Iran had shut down the internet for a week in November 2019; and some believed that it was a precursor to an entire internet shutdown. This move from Instagram may further impact the government’s censorship.
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