Iran ‘bribed Instagram moderators’ to remove profile

Among the profiles Iranian agents reportedly wanted to remove from Instagram was feminist activist Masih Alinejad.

Iranian activists have accused Instagram of blocking content documenting anti-government protests [Getty]

Iran bribed Instagram moderators to remove anti-regime profiles from the platform, bbc persian reported.

A Persian-language content moderator linked to Instagram has claimed Iranian intelligence services offered them thousands of dollars to block profiles of known anti-regime activists.

This includes the profile of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American journalist and women’s rights activist who has voiced her opposition to the government in Tehran.

“I was offered 5,000 to 10,000 euros [$5,350-$10,700; £4,250-£9,000] to delete an account. They were especially after kidnapping Masih Alinejad,” the former critic told the BBC.

Another former content moderator said he “personally knows some critics who support the Iranian regime and take instructions from Iran.”

Both accused other colleagues of showing “pro-regime bias” when moderating social media content.

The moderator, who works for a third-party company that handles complaints on Facebook and Instagram, told the BBC a reviewer can “independently delete a post” with little consequence.

“If a listener realizes this, at most your accuracy rate can drop by a percentage [point] or two,” they said.

It comes after Iranian activists complained that social media posts documenting recent anti-government protests had been deleted.

These included chants from crowds calling for the death of Iran’s leaders – slogans that have been commonplace since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Meta Platforms, the owner of Instagram, denies the censorship claims.

Telus International, which moderates posts in Persian on behalf of Instagram, also denied the allegations, but said it was investigating.

The company said it “does not have, and never had, any ties to the Iranian government” in a statement to the BBC.

“The processes in place eliminate the ability of reviewers to insert personal or political opinions into their work,” the statement added.

“Our team members review a random set of content to determine if it violates our client’s policies, standards and guidelines, removing any room for subjectivity.”

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