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Tehran accuses Twitter of closing accounts of ‘real’ Iranians

Twitter application (Dreamstime/TNS)
September 18, 2018

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused Twitter of closing accounts of “real” Iranians, while allowing antigovernment ones backed by the United States.

“Hello @Jack. Twitter has shuttered accounts of real Iranians, (including) TV presenters & students, for supposedly being part of an ‘influence op’,” Zarif tweeted on September 16, addressing Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

“How about looking at actual bots in [the Albanian capital of] Tirana used to prop up ‘regime change’ propaganda spewed out of [Washington] DC?,” Zarif said.

There was no immediate reaction from Twitter.

Last month, Twitter and Facebook removed hundreds of accounts linked to an alleged Iranian state propaganda operation.

Iranian authorities often accuse foreign governments and Iranian opposition groups abroad of using social media to spread discord in Iran.

Iranian media have accused exiled Iranian opposition groups, including the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, which has some members based in Albania, of launching social-media campaigns calling for regime change in Tehran.

On September 6, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Israel of waging a media war to discourage Iranians, as the country faces economic hardship after the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.

Iranian officials have blamed popular messaging apps and social-media campaigns for nationwide antigovernment protests against the flagging economy that erupted in December last year.