Meta’s Oversight Body Allows Post Calling For Death call for violence against U.S. political figures?

Meta’s Oversight Board overturned Monday’s company’s decision not to remove a post on Facebook that included the slogan “death-to Khamenei”, in a slur against the Iranian leader. The board said it was not in violation of a rule prohibiting violent threats.

The Meta-funded board said that it is independent but works independently. It referred to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the Supreme Leader of Iran, and has been leading a violent crackdown against protests across Iran in recent months.

It also encouraged the company’s development of better methods to incorporate such context into its content policy and clearly define when rhetorical threats were allowed against heads of states.

“In the contexts and wider political, social and linguistic circumstances in Iran, marg Bar Khamenei must be understood as ‘down’. It is not a credible threat, but a rhetorical slogan,” the board wrote.

Iran has been rocked by demonstrations since midSeptember after the death of a Kurdish Iranian girl aged 22 who was arrested for wearing “inappropriate attire” in violation of the country’s strict dress codes for women.

Protests in which people of all walks of life call for the fall Iran’s ruling theocracy pose one of the greatest challenges to the government of Shi’ite Muslim -ruled Islamic Republic since 1979.

Meta has struggled to deal with violent political rhetoric on its platforms, a familiar problem since the unrest.

The company bans any language that incites to “serious violence”, but aims not to overreach. It limits enforcement to credible threats and leaves ambiguity about when and how it applies.

Meta created a temporary exemption for calls for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin last year after Russia invaded Ukraine. This was to allow users in the area to vent their anger at the war.

However, the exemption was reversed days later when Reuters reported that it existed.

Meta was also under scrutiny for its use of platforms to organize during the Jan. 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol. Before the attack, hundreds of U.S.-based groups on Facebook used phrases such as “kill them ALL” to call for violence against U.S. political figures.

According to the Oversight Board, “death-to Khamenei” threats were not comparable to those made around Jan. 6 because politicians were then “clearly in danger” in the U.S context. “Death To” was not a rhetorical phrase in English.

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