Top Iranian government officials were suspended from Facebook-owned Instagram just hours after Trump dubbed the IRGC a “terrorist” organization.
'A curious decision by Instagram, which is owned by social media giant Facebook, has called into question its independence from the US government. The company has banned several top Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, from its photo-sharing platform.
This disappearance of foreign government officials by American tech corporations is the latest episode in a global information war.
On April 15, the administration of President Donald Trump designated Iran’s military wing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “terrorist” organization. Less than a day later, Instagram suspended the accounts of several Iranian officials, from military commanders to politicians with no ties to the IRGC.
Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani was among those banned. (Soleimani drew public attention in November for using his Instagram account to comically respond to Trump’s threat of sanctions with a Game of Thrones-style meme.) IRGC commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari also saw his Instagram account suspended, as did Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour.
Instagram additionally banned Iranian officials with no connection to the IRGC, including Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the former mayor of capital Tehran, who has not worked for the IRGC for nearly two decades. It even removed the page of Ezzatollah Zarghami, a former government minister and ex-director of Iran’s state media broadcaster; and the chief of Iran’s police, Kamal Hadianfar.
The news site Al-Monitor reported, “Accusations that Instagram is practicing double standards and advancing a political agenda gained further momentum when the ban targeted non-IRGC figures, among them Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric who lost the 2017 presidential race to Hassan Rouhani.”
IRGC Instagram accounts were popular among Iranians, particularly during the recent floods that saw several cities plunged into crisis. Al-Monitor noted, “Many Instagram users have praised the IRGC’s ongoing involvement in flood relief across Iran.”'
Read more: Instagram Acts as Arm of US Government, Bans Top Iranian Officials After IRGC ‘Terrorist’ Designation