Meta board finds 'death to Khamenei' doesn't violate rules as Trump ban remains

Similar statements used during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot are not comparable, the Oversight Board ruled.

Published: January 9, 2023 11:57am

Updated: January 9, 2023 2:04pm

Meta's Oversight Board decided Monday that posts containing "marg bar... Khamenei," a phrase calling for the death of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, should be allowed on Facebook.

The board overturned Meta's decision to remove a Facebook post containing the slogan, which directly translates to "death to Khamenei."

The board said its recommendations will "better protect political speech in critical situations, such as that in Iran, where historic, widespread, protests are being violently suppressed."

Before the ruling Monday, Meta had determined the post violated its Violence and Incitement Community Standard, but "applied a newsworthiness allowance and restored the post," the board said.

The oversight group wrote that the post did not violate the violence standard at all and applying the newsworthiness allowance was "unnecessary" because the phrase should be viewed as a "rhetorical, political slogan, not a credible threat" amid the ongoing anti-government protests

Similar statements used during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot are not comparable, "as politicians were clearly at risk and 'death to' statements are not generally used as political rhetoric in English, as they are in other languages," the board wrote.

Former President Trump remains banned by Meta, which has barred him from accessing his Facebook and Instagram accounts since the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. The Oversight Board found two of Trump's posts that day violated its rules. 

"'We love you. You're very special' in the first post and 'great patriots' and 'remember this day forever' in the second post violated Facebook's rules prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence," the board said.

Meta is considering allowing Trump back on the platform as he runs for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. The company should reach a decision in the next several weeks, a spokesperson told CNN last week.

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