Tuesday, May 21, 2019
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Iran slams Twitter for shutting down 'real Iranian' accounts

Iranian foreign minister questions Twitter's decision while asking why US-backed 'bots' were still active.

Iran has accused Twitter of closing accounts of "real" Iranians, while allowing anti-government "bots" backed by the United States, to continue.

Facebook and Twitter collectively removed hundreds of accounts tied to an alleged Iranian propaganda operation last month.

But in a tweet sent out on Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif questioned Twitter's decision to not block "bots" that "prop up 'regime change' propaganda spewed out of DC".

"Hello @Jack. Twitter has shuttered accounts of real Iranians, [including] TV presenters & students, for supposedly being part of an 'influence op'," Zarif said in the tweet, 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 DC? #YouAreBots."

Twitter declined to comment when contacted by the Reuters news agency in the US.

Iran, meanwhile, frequently blocks Twitter and other social media platforms due to concerns over national security.

In April, the government announced its plan to permanently block Telegram, the most popular messaging app in the country having about 40 million users in the country.

Iranian media have accused Israel, Saudi Arabia, and exiled opposition groups, including the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which has some members based in Albania, of being behind social media campaigns calling for for regime change in Tehran.

Earlier this month, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the US and Israel of waging a media war to discourage Iranians, as the country faces economic hardship after the reimposition of US sanctions.

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