Iran: Submission to Meta regarding case of woman confronted in the street

Iran: Submission to Meta regarding case of woman confronted in the street - Civic Space

Photo courtesy of @1500Tasvir

In this public comment to the Oversight Board, ARTICLE 19 addresses the complexity that arises in allowing and protecting expressions of protest while preventing harm in a context where certain forms of expression and protests are so heavily restricted. This case revolves around a Instagram post shared featuring a video of an unveiled Iranian woman being confronted by a man who identifies himself as a judicial officer and accuses the woman of being a criminal for failing to wear a hijab. The video is accompanied by a caption that shares that the video is ‘evidence of your bastardness and the courage of Iranian women’. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran has a long history of repressing protests, and has recently fixated in particular on prosecuting women appearing in public not wearing hijab as a form of protest. We find that Meta’s responsibility to respect human rights involves two elements, which in any given case may have to be balanced against each other: the protection of users from state persecution, and the need to respect online protest and not extend state censorship by removing content that is criminalised by Iran but protected under international human rights standards.

We believe that, where possible and where the consent of the woman in question can be established, Meta must ensure content about women defying or protesting the mandatory hijab in the Islamic Republic remains accessible online and is not subject to takedown. Establishing consent is undoubtedly a difficult process, and where it is not possible, the decision to remove content should be made on a case-by-case basis, with the objective of keeping content available where possible. We urge Meta work with experts and trusted partners to assess content on a case-by-case basis to ensure content is protected and remains accessible, and to assess situations in which removing content may be advisable and help protect the safety of an individual.

Read the submission