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Right Groups Urge Instagram Not To Censor Iranian Dissidents’ Content

6/10/2022

Three human rights groups called on Meta, the owner of the social networks Instagram and Facebook, to review its Persian-language content review procedures for Iran.

Digital civil rights group Access Now, London-based rights organization Article 19, and New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran met with a senior official from Meta on Thursday to convey their concerns over the company censoring content by Iranian dissidents and democracy advocates.

The groups said they made recommendations to Meta and Meta’s Oversight Board in an effort to streamline processes to ensure freedom of expression is protected for users who rely on their platform in Iran, especially during protests. 

The groups initiated action following allegations that Instagram content moderators are deleting accounts that have documented the regime’s rights abuses during the latest wave of protests, including content showing Iranian security forces beating protesters and firing tear gas into crowds.

BBC’s sources alleged that pro-regime employees of the German branch of Telus International, a Canadian contractor, which provides content moderation to Instagram with over 400 Iranian employees for reviewing Persian-language content, are responsible for restricting anti-government content of Iranian users.

In an investigative report, Deutsche Welle Farsi revealed that Mehdi Norouzi, the son of a former Islamic Republic envoy to Bulgaria -- Abdollah Norouzi, works at the Telas International branch in Sofia.

US lawmakers have also launched a probe into the Meta’s restrictions on Iranian dissidents’ contents.

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