The Facebook Oversight Board announced Tuesday that it was reviewing a company decision to remove a post calling for the death of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the wake of nationwide protests in the country.
In its Tuesday announcement, the board describes the July post as depicting a caricature of Khamenei grasping “a woman wearing the hijab” with his beard. The image is captioned calling for death to the “anti-women Islamic government” and its “filthy leader Khamenei.” While Facebook removed the post for encouraging violence against a political leader, the company later reinstated it in August once the board chose to review the decision, the announcement said.
“As we cannot hear every appeal, the Board prioritizes cases that have the potential to affect lots of users around the world”
The review announcement comes weeks after protests erupted across Iran over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was in police custody for violating the country’s modesty laws in September. The protests have taken place in over 45 cities over the last two weeks, and dozens of people have reportedly been killed and injured by Iranian security forces. On Monday, Khamenei sided with the police, accusing the US and Israel of manufacturing the unrest.
“As we cannot hear every appeal, the Board prioritizes cases that have the potential to affect lots of users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse or raise important questions about Meta’s policies,” the board said in its Tuesday announcement.
In recent months, Facebook and its parent company Meta have struggled to develop policies and address content that calls for political violence or the death of state leaders, like Russian President Vladimir Putin. In March, Meta said that “calls for the death of a head of state” violated the company’s rules. The clarification came only a week after Facebook weakened these rules to allow Ukrainian users to post violent threats against the Russian military shortly after Russia’s spring invasion.
The board is encouraging public comment on the review through October 18th. Once the members make a decision, they are able to issue policy recommendations to Facebook. The company isn’t required to implement the recommendations, but it must respond to the board within 60 days after publishing a decision.