Iranian officials reportedly bribed some Instagram moderators to remove accounts

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what you need to know

  • Iranian officials reportedly offered money to some Instagram content reviewers to remove accounts of journalists and activists.
  • Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American author and activist, appears to be among Iran’s targets.
  • Meta, Instagram’s parent company, has denied these allegations.

Iran’s intelligence officials have been accused of trying to bribe some Instagram content moderators to take down the accounts of journalists and activists who criticize the country’s government, the BBC reports (opens in new tab).

A former content reviewer told the news agency’s Iran office that officials had offered “5,000 to 10,000 euros” (approx. The moderator, according to the report, previously worked for Telus International, which handles reports and complaints from Instagram and Facebook users.

Instagram’s parent company, Meta, was not immediately available for comment as of this writing. However, a company spokesman denied these allegations in a statement to the BBC.

“We see no evidence to support these claims,” ​​the news outlet’s meta spokesperson said. “Our review teams remove content that violates our rules.”

Meta also claims that its reviewers’ “decisions are regularly reviewed to ensure accuracy.” However, a recent moderator has corroborated the former reviewer’s claims, saying the company only reviews about 10% of its decisions.

On the other hand, Meta told the BBC that it conducts its weekly audits “on a sample basis to maintain quality and accuracy and to understand where mistakes have been made”.

The presenters also accused some of their Iranian counterparts of supporting the Iranian regime and receiving orders from it. These reviewers enjoy the freedom to remove a “post that has been reported without serious consequences,” a moderator told the BBC.

Like Meta, Telus International denied the claims but added that “it took them very seriously and had launched an investigation into their merits,” according to the BBC.

Content reviewers spoke out after a number of Iranian Instagram users complained about the removal of some posts critical of the Iranian regime. The recent avalanche of anti-government content spoke about the ongoing anti-government protests taking place in different parts of Iran after the government cut subsidies on basic goods. This has led to price increases for staple foods.

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