Meta shuts down Facebook, Instagram accounts of Iran's Ali Khamenei

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Facebook and Instagram accounts were banned by Meta. File Photo by Iran Supreme Leader Office/EPA-EFE
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Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Meta removed accounts belonging to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from its Facebook and Instagram platforms after he was accused of applauding the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

A Meta spokesperson told CNN that Khamenei's Facebook and Instagram accounts, which are not currently available, had been disabled, meaning they are permanently removed from the platforms.

"We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating out Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy," the spokesperson said.

The policy outlaws individuals and organizations that support terrorism and violence, including those falling under the United States' terrorist organization designation.

Iran's Supreme Leader had more than five million followers on his Instagram account alone.

Iran has long been accused by the United States and the West of supporting militant organizations in the Middle East, from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen. Calls for social media action against Iran grew louder after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

Foes have accused Khamenei of applauding the Hamas attack, its bombardment of Israel and Houthi rebels attacking ships in the Red Sea in support of the Hamas.

Former Iranian government adviser Mohammad Marandi said his account has been suspended by Meta while supporters of Israel have not faced the same scrutiny.

"Many thousands of Iranians, including myself, have had their Facebook and Instagram accounts suspended or deleted," he told Middle East Eye. "So, this isn't unexpected."

Jonathan Greenblatt with the Anti-Defamation League praised Meta's decision.

"We've long asked Meta to take down the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and applaud that its finally happened," Greenblatt said on X. "He's used these platforms for years to incite violent anti-semitism, to legitimize militant antizionismand to make genocidal threats."

Iran also has been blamed for trying to limit and block social media use in support of the government. In 2022, Iran blocked Internet access and messaging app access during a crackdown of countrywide protests over the death of a Mahsa Amini at the hands of its morality police.