Economy & Politico

Freedom of speech in Meta style

On Friday, Meta stirred controversy by abruptly removing Instagram and Facebook accounts belonging to Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, who had a substantial following of 5.1 million users. The decision, made without prior notice, underscores the company’s pro-Israeli stance.

In 2023, the Instagram account KHAMENEI.IR ranked among the top 10 accounts of world leaders. Remarkably, posts on his Farsi-language account garnered over one hundred million views in the past three months. This account, active for twelve years, boasts a staggering nine thousand posts that received eighteen million comments.

Formerly known as Facebook, Meta now owns a quartet of platforms: Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger. Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, Meta provided a scant explanation for its actions, citing violations of its Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy as justification for the account removals.

This move coincided with Ayatollah Khamenei’s support for oppressed Palestinians and condemnation of the genocidal warfare in the Gaza Strip, a stance he has steadfastly maintained since October 7th. Meta’s actions raise fundamental questions about the role of social media platforms in regulating political discourse and the expression of support for contentious causes.

The incident highlights the delicate balance between freedom of speech and the enforcement of platform policies, particularly concerning influential figures like Ayatollah Khamenei. While Meta’s subsidiary platforms profess to foster an environment of free expression and diversity of opinion, their practices often align closely with U.S. laws and policies, potentially stifling dissenting voices that challenge mainstream narratives.

The removal of Ayatollah Khamenei’s accounts signals two significant realities. Firstly, it casts doubt on Western claims of upholding freedom of expression, revealing a willingness to silence expressive and influential voices without hesitation. Secondly, it exposes a broader pattern of support for the Israeli regime, which has faced widespread condemnation for its violent actions against Palestinians. Meta’s actions are just one facet of a larger trend of political and media support for Israel, highlighting the West’s willingness to sacrifice principles for geopolitical alliances.

As such, it prompts a broader discussion about the power dynamics inherent in digital platforms and their impact on global conversations surrounding geopolitics and social justice.

Pro-Israeli allegiances: a closer look at Meta’s actions

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has long displayed a pro-Israeli stance, a position that has come under increased scrutiny, especially in light of the recent Israeli aggression and onslaught in Gaza. Even before Meta’s recent actions, Zuckerberg’s intolerance towards viewpoints contrary to his own was evident.

In 2020, following the assassination of the Iranian anti-terror General Soleimani by the U.S. army at the Iraqi airport, an outpouring of support for General Soleimani flooded virtual spaces. However, Facebook, under Meta’s umbrella, swiftly intervened by banning and removing hashtags such as #Soleimani and #WeAreTheNationOfImamHussain.

These actions underscored Meta’s staunch alignment with pro-Zionist stances and its readiness to implement restrictions that exceed even the expectations of the Israeli regime.

The implications of Meta’s actions extend beyond mere content moderation; they raise profound questions about the role of social media platforms in shaping political narratives and stifling dissenting voices. By aligning with certain geopolitical agendas, Meta risks eroding trust in its commitment to free expression and exacerbating tensions in already volatile regions. As such, Zuckerberg’s alignment with pro-Israeli stances warrants closer examination, not only for its immediate consequences but also for its broader implications on digital freedoms and global discourse.

First Published by Tehran Times


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