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Instagram Is Removing Posts Supporting Slain Iranian General Soleimani

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Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, are removing posts that voice support for slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. This is in order to comply with US sanctions, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.


Instagram sets to remove posts supporting Soleimani. Photo: Coda Story


Coda Story reports that at least 15 Iranian journalists have reported having their accounts suspended, according to the International Federation of Journalists.


Government-owned and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated media agencies such as Tasnim News Agency, the Iran Newspaper and Jamaran News all had their accounts, with combined hundreds of thousands of followers, removed entirely by Instagram.


The account shutdown also affects Iranian influencers, human rights advocates, and activists. It prompted the Iranian government to call for nationwide legal action against Instagram in protest.


In addition, it is creating a portal on a government website for Instagram and Facebook users to submit examples of posts the company removed, an Iranian state media reported.


Instagram is among the few western social media sites that are inaccessible in Iran. Facebook and Twitter are also inaccessible. However, some Iranians still access those sites using VPNs.


Meanwhile, Iran’s government spokesperson, Ali Rabiei, has labelled Instagram’s actions “undemocratic” in a tweet.


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Instagram shut down Soleimani’s personal account on the social media platform in April 2019. This was after the US government labelled the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organisation. Soleimani was a commander of the IRGC.


Soleimani posts removal in line with US law

“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 footballer Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who is verified on Instagram, posted a photo of Soleimani after his death. Jahanbakhsh said Instagram had removed that post.


As part of its compliance with the US law, the Facebook spokesperson says the company removes accounts run by or on behalf of sanctioned people and organisations.

It also removes posts that commend the actions of sanctioned parties and individuals, and seeks to help further their actions, the spokesperson said. Also, saying that Facebook has an appeal process if any users feel the removal is in error.


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