A demonstrator holds a scarf like a noose around her neck during a One Law for All dance protest at Piccadilly Circus on December 17, 2022 in London, England

Posts calling for the death of Iran's Supreme Leader are not in violation of Meta's policies. The Oversight Board argues that the "death to Khamenei" posts should not be seen as a call for violence. Meta's decision to abide by the Oversight Board's ruling could have far-reaching implications for politically contentious speech in other parts of the country.

There is a debate about a July 22, 2022, Facebook post of a cartoon version of Khamenei where his beard grasps hold of a chained and blindfolded woman with the words "marg bar" written on it. Underneath, there is a picture of Khamenei. The Oversight Board says that narrow reading misses the bigger picture. Protesters and political dissenters often evoke the slogan to mean, "down with Khamenei." The Oversight Board, which is independent of Meta but relies on the company to sign its checks, overturned Meta's decision and called on the company to improve its respect for freedom of expression.

The Oversight Board said that it was concerned that Meta had not taken action to allow use of the slogan at scale during the current protests in Iran.

The death of a Kurdish woman who was arrested by the country's morality police for not wearing a hijab has led to a brutal suppression of Iranian protesters. As enraged Iranians flooded the streets, government officials moved to block major internet services.

The Oversight Board says that Meta should have done more to prepare for politically sensitive speech and should have anticipated issues likely to occur around removal requests for content. The Oversight Board believes that Meta's unpreparedness may have led to the suppression of political speech aimed at protecting women's rights. The Oversight Board doesn't think that a "newsworthiness" label is necessary since the posts didn't violate Meta's rules.

The Oversight Board wrote that Meta should be less reluctant to scale allowances. There are minimal risks to safety where voice is concerned. The right to freedom of expression in Iran is limited due to systematic violations of human rights.

The authors of the ruling think it is unlikely that a universal approach to death posts on the platform can be found. Death threats towards high-risk individuals, for example, would likely violate the company's policy. Posts calling for death would also happen during the attack on the capitol. It's not clear how Meta would respond to phrases like "Death to America", which gained prominence in recent decades, as a political response to the U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

Meta said it would conduct a review of identical content with parallel context.

The Oversight Board made a decision on this case. The board overturned Meta's decision to remove the content from the platform for violating their Violence and Incitement Policy. There will be no further action taken on this content.

The company's operations can be affected by Meta's decision to use political speech. Meta was kicked out of Russia completely after changing its hate speech policies to allow calls for violence against the president. The rule changes only applied to a small group of countries.

A new statement was added from Meta.