Meta’s oversight board is asking the company to allow “death to Khamenei” posts

Meta’s oversight board is asking the company to allow “death to Khamenei” posts

Meta’s oversight board is asking the company to allow “death to Khamenei” posts

Jan 9 (Reuters) – Meta’s (META.O) supervisory board on Monday overturned the company’s decision to remove a Facebook post that used the slogan ‘Tod Khamenei’ to criticize the Iranian leader, saying , he did not break a rule prohibiting violent threats.

The body, which is funded by Meta but operates independently, said in a ruling that the phrase is often used to mean “Down with Khamenei” when referring to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who led a crackdown on nationwide protests in Iran in recent months.

It also called on the company to develop better ways to include such context in its content policies and make it clear when rhetorical threats against heads of state are permissible.

“In the context of the post and the broader social, political and linguistic situation in Iran, ‘marg bar Khamenei’ should be understood as ‘down with’. It’s a rhetorical, political slogan, not a credible threat,” the board wrote.

Iran has been gripped by demonstrations since mid-September after the death in custody of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, who was arrested for wearing “inappropriate clothing” under the country’s strict dress code for women.

The protests, which saw demonstrators from all walks of life demanding the overthrow of Iran’s ruling theocracy, posed one of the greatest challenges to the government of the Shia-ruled Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

The riots presented a now-familiar conundrum for Meta, which has repeatedly faltered in its handling of violent political rhetoric on its platforms.

The company bans language that incites “serious violence” but aims to avoid overdoing it by limiting enforcement to credible threats and leaving ambiguity about when and how the rule applies.

For example, after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Meta introduced a temporary exception to allow death calls to Russian President Vladimir Putin to give users in the region space to vent their anger at the war.

Days later, however, the exception was reversed after Reuters reported its existence.

Meta also came under scrutiny for how its platforms were used to organize in the run-up to the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. Phrases like “kill them all” appeared on thousands of US Facebook groups before the attack, including calls for violence against certain US political leaders.

The oversight panel said in its decision that the “death for Khamenei” statements differed from threats released around January 6 because politicians were “clearly at risk” in the US context at the time and “death for” was not rhetorical statement was in English.

Reporting by Katie Paul in Palo Alto, California Editing by Sandra Maler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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