News / Middle East

Iranian Supreme Leader 'Likes' Facebook

A screenshot of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Facebook page.
A screenshot of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Facebook page.
Not to be outdone by the Pope’s creation of a Twitter account, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has joined Facebook, a site off limits to most Iranians due to internet filters imposed by the state.

The public page was launched Friday, and already has over 5,000 likes. It is run by Khamenei’s staff and so far has posted four photos of Iran’s most powerful man.

The profile picture is his official seal with his handwritten signature and full name in Persian script “Seyed Ali Khamenei,” and the cover photo shows him riding in a car among his followers.

There are also links to his speeches as well as a picture of a young Khamenei alongside the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in the 1960s.

The few posts have received a lot of feedback, with hundreds of likes and comments ranging from messages of love to extreme criticism and even wishes for his death.

Unlike the Pope, who just joined Twitter earlier in December, Khamenei has been using the short messaging site since March of 2009.

The office of Iran's Supreme Leader also runs a website www.khamenei.ir, an outlet that publishes news and information in 13 languages, and an Instagram site.

Iranian watchers were not surprised by Khamenei’s move to Facebook.

“Ayatollah Khamenei and his cohorts have a clear-cut record in using social media tools to spread their message when it suits them,” says Alex Vatanka, a scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. “There are hundreds of pro-regime websites paid for by the regime. But the playing field is far from level. Inside Iran, the regime is in the enviable position where it can block anyone they don’t like from competing with them in cyberspace. They are not asking for an open contest of ideas, because I am sure the regime thinks – rightly in my view – they will lose that battle."

Khamenei’s Twitter account has occasionally been used to publish controversial statements. An example was in August, when it published a statement condemning the 2011 takeover of the British Embassy in Tehran.

The tweet read: “Leader of the revolution in a meeting with students: in the recent takeover of that evil embassy [England], the youth were right in their emotions but their behavior was not right.”

That was the first time Ayatollah Khamenei publicly condemned the highly publicized attack, which was attributed to students and resulted in Britain cutting ties with Iran.

While both Twitter and Facebook are blocked by Iran’s Internet censors, they are still widely used by Iranians with the technical know how to get around the bans.

During the 2009 post-election protests known as the 'Green Movement' in Iran, social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube served as powerful tools for protesters. It allowed them to publish images and videos and convey what was happening in Iran.

Despite Khamenei’s move onto a banned website, Iran has long claimed it is developing its own national intranet, Halal internet, which officials say will be free of un-Islamic content and will be easier to monitor. Iran recently launched its own version of Youtube called MehrTube.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: BEANCUBE from: Seattle, WA
December 18, 2012 8:04 PM
Iranians need to distribute more hardware with Linux around the world. They are available, just find them from China, Korea, and Indonesia, do some test, start an industry, create encriptions and distribute it as a low cost platform for smart-phones, tablets, notebooks and PCs around the world. Don't be isolated by Zionists.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs