Meta Expanding Censorship a Day After Iranian Leader Booted from Platform?

Social media giant Meta has taken more decisive, yet contradicting, action against content connected to the growing military conflict in the Middle East.

Meta on Thursday suspended the Instagram and Facebook accounts of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for “repeatedly violating” the company’s policy on dangerous and violent organizations. Khamenei has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped “off the map,” other remarks associated with genocide and anti-Semitism. On the same day, a report alleged Meta could soon censor the word “Zionist,” a term often used to insult Jewish individuals but otherwise protected by the First Amendment.

Meta is planning on potentially expanding its hate speech policy on the term “Zionist,” according to The Intercept. The social media company reportedly issued a Jan. 30 email to civil groups asking their opinions on whether the term is offensive. “Meta is reviewing this policy in light of content that users and stakeholders have recently reported,” the platform wrote, but did not specify the content in question.

“While the term Zionist often refers to a person’s ideology, which is not a protected characteristic, it can also be used to refer to Jewish or Israeli people,” Meta Director of Policy Communications Corey Chambliss told The Intercept. “Given the increase in polarized public discourse due to events in the Middle East, we believe it’s important to assess our guidance for reviewing posts that use the term Zionist.”

Big Tech platforms have come under fire for platforming Khamenei, the Iranian head of state currently embroiled in armed tensions between the U.S.-British forces and Iranian-backed militias in the Middle East. And while the Ayatollah’s speech was likely not constitutionally-protected given the immediacy of the threat proposed, censoring words tied to the Jewish state of Israel could lead to the censorship of free speech on Meta platforms.

“The way to stop ‘hate speech’ is by countering it with more speech. Attempts to censor vile thinking and hateful language only induces the little cockroaches to spew more of their filth,” MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider said. “While we appreciate that Meta  is disgusted by antisemitic rhetoric, abridging constitutional rights will neither achieve its goals nor make our country better.”

Tensions in the Middle East are boiling following the Hamas terror attack against Israel on Oct. 7. Iranian-backed militias are currently battling U.S. and allied forces in the Middle East over the U.S. support of Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip.

Conservatives are under attack! Contact your representatives and demand government agencies and Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.

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