Though Facebook was banned in Iran in 2009 due to its nature as a social hub for government opponents, the country’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a fan of the social network and launched his own profile several days ago.
The Facebook page “Khamenei.ir” shows photographs of the 73-year-old Muslim cleric and displays speeches and announcements by the man who wields the greatest amount of power in Iran. There are other “fan pages” of the Ayatollah on Facebook, but the new one appears to be an official account, according to Reuters.
Ayatollah also has a Twitter account that is believed to be operated by Khamenei’s office.
“Social media gives the regime leadership another medium of communication, one that can share their message with a younger and far more international demographic,” said Afshon Ostovar, a Middle East analyst at CNA, a US-based research organization.
Translation: Social is awesome in Iran, so long as Iran controls the conversation.
Though the monopoly of perspective exhibited by the Ayatollah’s social media presence inspires many a hairy eyeball from Western civilizations spoiled by radical concepts like “freedom of speech,” we’re reluctant to label Khamenei’s Facebook account as a blatant example of hypocrisy, but that’s mostly because we don’t want a fatwā hanging over our heads.