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Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei banned from Facebook and Instagram

Khamenei remains active on X and has praised Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel on the platform.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was removed from Facebook and Instagram on Feb. 8, 2024, by Meta.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was removed from Facebook and Instagram on Thursday amid the social media sites’ efforts to crack down on violent content amid the Gaza war.

A spokesperson for Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, confirmed to Al-Monitor that the ayatollah’s accounts were removed.

“We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy,” said the spokesperson in a statement.

Clicking on the URLs for Khamenei's official Facebook and Instagram pages brought up a message on Thursday saying they were not available.

Background: Khamenei joined both Facebook and Instagram back in 2012. He used the platforms regularly, despite both being blocked in Iran. Iranians can access blocked social media sites through virtual private networks, or VPNs.

Meta did not point to any specific incidents for Khamenei's ban. The company’s Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy stipulates a prohibition on “content that glorifies, supports or represents events that Meta designates as violating violent events — including terrorist attacks.”

In October, Meta said it would boost enforcement of its policies regarding violent posts amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Khamenei remains active on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. Though he posted several times on Thursday, he did not address being banned from Facebook and Instagram.

Khamenei has posted on X in support of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. On that day, he shared a video of Israeli concertgoers fleeing armed Palestinian assailants.

"God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region,” he said in the post.

Other Iranian officials continue to use Meta’s platforms. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s Instagram remains active.

Reactions: Critics of the Iranian government rejoiced at the news of Khamenei's removal from Facebook and Instagram and called on X owner Elon Musk to follow suit. 

Musk posted his own response critical of Khamenei's Oct. 7 post. "Stoking the fires of hatred isn’t working. Perhaps it is time to consider something else," he said, though Khamenei's accounts remain active on the platform.

X later added the following message above Khamenei's post, "This Post violated the X Rules. However, X has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Post to remain accessible."

Know more: Meta’s removal of Khamenei's accounts is not the first instance of controversy between the company and the Iranian leader. In January of last year, Meta determined that posts calling for Khamenei’s death are allowed on its platforms. 

The decision was made in response to slogans used during the anti-government Mahsa Amini protests that began in Iran in 2022.