According to a report by BBC, Iran officials tried to bribe Instagram moderators to remove the accounts of regime opponents.
The Iranian regime does not positively view social networks and uses every opportunity to restrict access to social platforms. Currently, the Iranian regime has blocked platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube. Accessing these platforms is only possible through VPN. The BBC reports that some Iranian regime officials have tried to remove the journalists’ and activists’ accounts by bribing Instagram moderators.
Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American author and activist, has been a target for the regime. As per the report, some Instagram reviewers have said they received bribes between 5,000 to €10,000 ($5,350 to $10,700) to remove some accounts.
The moderator who revealed the case has previously worked for Telus International, which provides customer service to different companies and handles complaints from Instagram and Facebook users.
Iran officials tried to remove journalists’ and activists’ Instagram accounts
Instagram’s parent company, Meta, refused to comment on the issue immediately, but they denied the allegations. “We see no evidence to support these claims,” the Meta spokesperson told BBC. “Our review teams remove content that breaks our rules.”
Meta claims to audit reviewers’ decisions on a regular basis to ensure their accuracy. However, a moderator within the company says only about 10% of their decisions are audited.
The company also says they conduct weekly audits “based on a random sample to maintain quality and accuracy and understand where mistakes had been made.”
One of the moderators told the BBC that some of the company’s Iranian employees are supporters of the Iranian regime. They also receive instructions from the Iran’s intelligence service. Also, these Iranian colleagues enjoy removing a “post that has been reported without facing any serious consequences.”
Telus International told BBC that “it took them very seriously and had launched an investigation into their merits.”
Instagram is currently one of the most popular social networks in Iran and has tens of millions of users in the country. Opponents of the regime also use the platform to criticize the regime’s actions and protest repression.