(Photo Credit: Reuters)
On 9 January, the US-based Meta company overturned its decision to remove posts calling for the demise of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, specifically posts containing the phrase “death to Khamenei.”
The Metaverse company explained that the phrase is not a literal threat to the Iranian supreme leader. Anti-government social media posts commonly use the term ‘marg bar Khamenei’ which translates to “down with” the supreme leader in Farsi to English, with decision-makers in Meta saying it is “It is a rhetorical, political slogan, not a credible threat.”
These captions are in reference to the alleged murder of Kurdish-Iranian national Mahsa Amini by Iran’s morality police, which resulted in nationwide protests against the Iranian government and brought instability to the nation.
Allowing such chants to be posted directly violates Meta’s policy of preventing users from inciting violence. However, political experts suggest that this double standard proves Meta’s ambiguous and inconsistent post-regulations.
Meta’s board said: “in the Iranian context … Meta must do more to respect freedom of expression and permit the use of rhetorical threats. The Iranian government systematically represses freedom of expression, and digital spaces have become a key forum for dissent. In such situations, it is vital that Meta supports users’ voices.”
US-based social media platforms are known for censoring posts that spread misinformation or incite violence, yet commonly allow posts that dehumanize nations that fall within West Asia’s resistance axis, including countries such as Palestine, Yemen, Russia, and Iran.
Last week, ‘Zahak,’ an updated game available on Google Play for free, allows users to play as Iranian protesters whose main mission is to fight high-ranking officials in the Islamic Republic, with the final goal being the assassination of Khamenei and to overthrow the government in Tehran.
This is a step up from the latest Call of Duty (CoD) game, which included a stage in which the player must carry out the assassination of an Iranian general bearing a striking resemblance to Soleimani, the fallen Quds Force commander. Despite the provocative nature of that particular CoD level, the name of the Iranian general depicted was – at the very least – rebranded from Soleimani to ‘Ghorbrani.’