Instagram censors pro Iran posts

31st Jan 2020
Instagram censors pro Iran posts

Brighton FC footballer Alireza Jahanbakhsh was caught up on Instagram’s pro-Iran ban (Credit: Masoud Akbari/Fars News Agency)

Harun Nasrullah

The Iranian Government has called for legal action against Instagram after the social media platform removed posts that offered support for assassinated General Qassem Soleimani.
Many outraged Instagram users in Iran found their accounts censored or shut down altogether.

According to the International Federation of Journalists, at least 15 Iranian journalists have had their accounts suspended, and a spokesman for the IFJ said the clampdown, posed “an immediate threat to freedom of information in Iran.”

Anthony Bellanger, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said, “At a time when Iranian citizens need access to information it is unacceptable that Instagram should choose to censor Iranian media and individual journalists and uses.”

In a letter to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, the Association of Iranian Journalists (a member organisation of the International Federation of Journalists), called the censorship “unprecedented in the history of social networks and conflict with the innate actuality of media”

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook is one of the only Western platforms not banned in Iran and according to media reports, there are 24 million active users of the platform in the country.

The Iranian Government created a site for Instagram users to submit examples of posts that have been removed and suggested that legal action was being considered. Iranian influencers, human rights advocates and activists are also finding their accounts shut or posts deleted.

Instagram deleted a post by Iranian journalist Emadeddin Baghi, a critic of Iran’s Government, who nevertheless wrote Soleimani’s killing was “contrary to the principles of international law.”

The takedowns have reached high-profile verified users, including Brighton footballer Alireza Jahanbakhsh. The 26-year-old Iranian forward had posted a photograph of Soleimani after his death which was taken down. Executives have said that they are removing the posts in compliance with US sanctions on Iran.

A Facebook spokesperson said, “We operate under US sanctions laws, including those related to the US government’s designation of the Islamic Republican Guard Corps and its leadership.” The US has designated as a Guard Corps as a “terrorist organisation.” The US assassinated General Soleimani in Iraq on January 3.

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