global nazi update

Instagram says it’s removing posts supporting Soleimani to comply with Pindo sanctions
Donie O’Sullivan, Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN, Jan 11 2020

FASCHINGSTEIN – Instagram and its parent company Facebook are removing posts that voice support for Gen Soleimani to comply with Pindo sanctions, a Facebook spox said in a statement to CNN Business on Friday. The Iranian government has called for nation-wide 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. Instagram shut down Soleimani’s own account on the platform last April after the Pindo government designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization. A Facebook spox said in a statement:

We operate under Pindo sanctions laws, including those related to the Pindo government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership.

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. As part of its compliance with Pindo law, the Facebook spox 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 Pindo government.

After Soleimani’s death, Instagram shuts down Iranian accounts
Isobel Cockerell, Codastory, Jan 10 2020

After a Pindo drone strike killed Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani, Iranians flocked to one of their favorite platforms, Instagram. But in the days following the general’s death, journalists, activists and ordinary Iranians have experienced shutdowns and censorship, not from Iran but from Instagram. At least fifteen Iranian journalists have reported having their accounts suspended, according to the International Federation of Journalists. Government-owned and IRGC-affiliated media agencies such as Tasnim News Agency, Iran Newspaper and Jamaran News all had their accounts, with a combined hundreds of thousands of followers, removed entirely by Instagram. the International Federation of Journalists said in a statement:

This poses an immediate threat to freedom of information in Iran.

Iranian influencers, human rights advocates, and activists are also experiencing account shutdowns. Amir Rashidi, an Iran internet security and digital rights researcher based in New York, watched on Instagram as account after account in Iran was shut down or had posts removed after users discussed the killing. He said:

It’s very widespread. It’s huge. Every person I saw that posted about Soleimani on Instagram, almost all of their posts have been removed.

While Facebook, Twitter and Telegram are all blocked by the government and can only be accessed through a virtual private network, Instagram is one of the few Western-built social media apps not yet banned by the government. The platform has an estimated 24 million active users in Iran and is an important communications tool, though reports say it’s about to be blocked by the government, too. Rashidi said:

The only platform where we could freely express ourselves was Instagram, and now Instagram is censoring us.

Instagram said that in removing posts in praise of Soleimani, it was complying with Pindo sanctions law. In Apr 2019, Pindostan designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. Shortly after Trump’s designation was announced, Instagram removed a number of IRGC pages, including that of Soleimani himself and Ayatollah Khamenei’s English-language page, which the company later reinstated. A Facebook spox said:

We operate under Pindo sanctions laws, including those related to the Pindo government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership.

Instagram said any accounts maintained by or on behalf of the IRGC as well as content that supports it are in violation of its community guidelines banning terrorist content. Eliza Campbell, associate director at the Cyber Program at the Middle East Institute in Faschingstein, said the existing laws had failed to keep up with online speech. She explained:

This is just a field of law that really hasn’t been written quite yet. The terrorist designation system is an important tool, but it’s also a blunt instrument. I think we’re walking down a dangerous path when we afford these platforms, which are private entities, have no oversight, and are not elected bodies, to essentially dictate policy, which is what’s happening right now.

Investigative journalist Emadeddin Baghi, 57, who has nearly 40,000 Instagram followers, also had four of his Soleimani-related Instagram posts removed. Baghi, who has been imprisoned multiple times in Iran, is a well-known critic of the IRGC. Baghi said:

I shared a post that had two parts. The general’s death saddened some, and made others happy, but it was an act which is contrary to the principles of international law.

In the post, Baghi also reflected on how Iran reached this point in history, and how it could have been avoided. Baghi described the post as daring given the current emotional climate in Iran. But Baghi is nonplussed as to why the post was deleted. He said:

In fact, it was a criticism of the government’s policies. Which of these words is really questionable on Instagram?

Screenshots from Emaddedin Baghi’s Instagram,
which had four posts removed by the company.

The Instagram app warned Baghi:

If you learn and follow our guidelines, you can prevent your account from being deleted.

He believes the reason for the post’s deletion may be as a result of describing the general’s death as a “martyrdom,” a view held by many Iranians, who see Soleimani as a unifying figure who fought Saddam Hussein and Daesh. Campbell said:

When it comes to non-English languages, their tools and metric for designating dangerous speech are really sloppy or at least, underdeveloped. My guess is they have a list of danger words, and the word for “martyr” in this case was probably one of them.

The Iranian diaspora has also been affected by Instagram’s crackdown. Norwegian-Iranian businesswoman Bahareh Letnes, the partner of Norway’s former fisheries minister, also had her posts removed. Letnes, 29, who has a following of more than 20,000 on Instagram, had posted a black-and-white photo of Soleimani, describing him as a “war hero” and adding:

I hope the Pindo military is now thrown out of the Middle East forever. Rest in peace.

Her post was deleted by Instagram. Letnes said, in reference to one of her posts depicting the general:

I was not surprised, because I knew censorship and lack of freedom of speech exist all over the world. Instagram said I am not allowed to use violent images. Can you show me violence here? Instagram thinks the image of Soleimani is violent.

Letnes wrote in another Instagram post on Tuesday:

Pindostan must gladly suspend my account, censor me, threaten me, but I will not be silent.

In November, the Iranian government shut down the internet for a week, denying millions access to the web. For years Iran has been building a govt-controlled “intranet.” They are also creating a domestic platform to replace Instagram as the government prepares to block the app. Iranians fear the November shutdown was a precursor to a permanent internet blackout. Rashidi said Instagram’s removal of Soleimani-related content has played into the hands of Iran’s leaders and their campaign to build an internet that’s ring-fenced off from the world. he said:

It’s a huge propaganda gift for the Iranian government—these companies need to understand the consequences of their decision. They are basically helping the Iranian government control the Iranian people.

Iranians are already attempting to get around the threat of deletions and account shutdowns. Rashidi said:

People are self-censoring. When they post something about the situation they try not to mention Soleimani’s name or the IRGC. It seems there is no platform ever for us to express ourselves or speak our mind.

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