Instagram says its going to be removing posts about Soleimani of its platform in order to obey sanctions posted by the US government. The news came cutesy of Facebook, Instagram’s parent company which confirmed to CNN it alongside its subsidiaries mainly Instagram pulled posts and accounts supporting diseased Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani to
in order to obey US sanctions against the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its leaders. The International Federation of Journalists noted that some of the accounts had been restored, but the pro-Soleimani posts were still gone — and some of the accounts that were offline included whole news agencies. As Instagram is one of the few social media services that isn’t blocked in Iran, this limits both the outside world’s ability to see Iranian perspectives (even if they’re dictated by the state) and the country’s ability to disseminate news on less contentious topics.
Instagram and its parent company Facebook are removing posts that voice support for slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani to comply with US sanctions, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business Friday.
The Iranian government has called for nationwide legal action against Instagram in protest, even creating a portal on a government website for the app’s users to submit examples of posts the company removed, Iranian state media reported.
Instagram is one of the few western social media platforms that is not blocked in Iran. Facebook and Twitter are blocked but some Iranians access those sites using VPNs.
In a tweet, Iran’s government spokesperson, Ali Rabiei, called Instagram’s actions “undemocratic.”
Instagram shut down Soleimani’s own account on the platform last April after the US government designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization. Soleimani was an IRGC commander.
“We operate under US sanctions laws, including those related to the US government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
Iranian soccer player Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who has a verified Instagram account, posted a photo of Soleimani after his death. Jahanbakhsh said Instagram had removed that post.
Details of the takedowns were reported earlier by Coda Story.
As part of its compliance with US law, the Facebook spokesperson said the company removes accounts run by or on behalf of sanctioned people and organizations.
It also removes posts that commend the actions of sanctioned parties and individuals and seek to help further their actions, the spokesperson said, adding that Facebook has an appeals process if users feel their posts were removed in error.
CNN Business has reached out to Twitter and Google for comment to ask how they handle content related to people sanctioned by the US government.