Instagram subcontracts it content moderation to Telus International. Telus International is a Canadian company and its Persian-language moderators are based in Germany. Many Iranian bloggers and news outlets have complained that some of their content is being deleted or their account has been limited going all the way back to May 2022.
1500tasvir reported in May that its Instagram account was being limited by Meta to “protect our community”.
In a wave of protests, three Republican lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees have launched a probe. Representatives Jim Banks (Ind.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y), and Joe Wilson (S.C.) want information about what steps Meta has “taken to confront infiltration by proponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran” that resulted in deleting and censoring accounts tied to anti-regime activists.
In an investigative report, Deutsche Welle Farsi revealed that Mehdi Norouzi, the son of former Islamic Republic envoy to Bulgaria – Abdollah Norouzi – works at the Telus International branch in Sofia.
A former review spoke to BBC Persian:
I was offered 5,000 to 10,000 Euros to delete an account. They were especially after removing Masih AlinejadWhistleblower
Both content moderators also accused some Iranian colleagues of exhibiting “pro-regime bias” when reviewing posts on the photo-sharing service. They spoke to the BBC after many Iranian Instagram users complained that posts about recent anti-government protests in their country had been deleted.
Meta responded to these claims, stating: “We see no evidence to support these claims. our review teams remove content that breaks our rules.” However, current and former content moderators who spoke to the BBC claimed that only about 10% of their decisions were audited.
Telus International said all moderators it hired underwent a comprehensive screening process that included a background check to confirm their qualifications for the role.