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, 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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs