Instagram is taking down posts supporting slain Iranian general Soleimani
Instagram has been removing posts supporting Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian military leader who was killed by an American strike on January 3, CNN reports. Instagram’s actions were first spotted by the nonprofit news organization Coda. In statements to both news organizations, Facebook-owned Instagram said it was taking down the posts to comply with US sanctions laws.
Soleimani was a leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military that the US has accused of training and funding groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The Trump administration designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in April 2019.
“We review content against our policies and our obligations to US sanctions laws, and specifically those related to the US government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership as a terrorist organization,” Facebook said in a statement to Ars Technica.
After the Trump administration designated the IRGC a terrorist organization last April, Instagram deleted accounts connected to the IRGC. But the latest takedowns seem to be more wide-ranging—removing posts commenting on Soleimani’s death by people without a direct connection to him or the IRGC.
The International Federation of Journalists reported last week that at least 15 Iranian journalists have had their accounts suspended since Soleimani’s death. “Some accounts of Iranian newspapers and news agencies have now been removed from the social media platform,” the IFJ wrote.
Instagram’s actions are significant here because Instagram is one of the few social media platforms that is not yet blocked in Iran. Twitter and Facebook are not allowed in Iran—though of course some Iranians still access it via VPNs. But Instagram remains legal, perhaps because Instagram content is predominantly non-political.