This week, Facebook’s Oversight Board announced that it was reviewing a company decision to remove a post calling for the death of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Iranian officials in the wake of nationwide protests in the country following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
The latest development in the social media industry comes as reports from Facebook and Instagram’s parent companies indicate that agents of Iran’s regime have infiltrated the media outlets to filter posts and videos that are unflattering to the regime.
In their announcement this week, board officials described the July post as depicting a caricature of Iran’s Supreme leader grasping a “woman wearing the hijab” with his beard. The image caption called for the death of the “anti-women Islamic government” and described Khamenei as a “filthy leader.”
In response, Facebook removed the post for encouraging violence against a political leader but later reinstated it in August once officials decided to review the decision.
“As we cannot hear every appeal, the Board prioritizes cases that have the potential to affect lots of users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise important questions about Meta’s policies,” the board explained in its announcement.
The review comes after several weeks of protests erupting throughout Iran over the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, while she was in custody by the Islamic morality police for violating the country’s modesty laws in September.
After news broke out of her death, young and old Iranians took to the streets to protest against the regime, chanting “Death to Dictator, “Death to Khamenei,” “Death to Raisi,” and “Women, Life, Freedom.”
With protests not stopping and gaining significant steam, Iran officials have deployed security forces and the Islamic Basij police to beat, arrest, and kill citizens on the streets.
On Monday, in a speech to Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stated that the protests were supported by American and Israeli forces and reiterated the calls for heavy crackdowns against Iranian citizens. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also called for the protesters to cease their anti-regime activities, threatening them with severe consequences.
With internet services shut down in Iran by the regime, Iranian citizens have been trying to spread their protests on social media and relay information to the outside world, showing photos and videos of marches, chants, and protesters being arrested, killed, and beaten by security forces.
In the U.S., Iranian Americans and human rights groups have called on social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many others to find ways to circumvent the internet ban and allow Iranians to post their anti-regime pictures and slogans without any interruption.
In the past, reports have come out that Iranian agents who work at Facebook and its parent company Meta, filtering anti-regime posts and even banning those who say anything critical of the Ayatollahs.
Former employees from Facebook and Meta have revealed the extent to which Iranian agents are in powerful positions at these companies, with many employees knowing these individuals are Iranian agents. Members of Congress and Senate have responded to these claims, calling on officials from Facebook to respond to these reports.