September 16, 2018 / 7:53 PM / 8 days ago

Iran says Twitter shut legitimate accounts, but not anti-government ones

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday accused Twitter of closing accounts of “real” Iranians, while allowing anti-government ones backed by the United States.

FILE PHOTO - The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

In August, Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc collectively removed hundreds of accounts tied to an alleged Iranian propaganda operation.

“Hello @Jack. Twitter has shuttered accounts of real Iranians, (including) TV presenters & students, for supposedly being part of an ‘influence op’,” Zarif said in a tweet, addressing Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif takes part in a meeting with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini (not pictured), at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 15, 2018. Thierry Monasse/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

“How about looking at actual bots in (the Albanian capital of) Tirana used to prop up ‘regime change’ propaganda spewed out of (Washington) DC? #YouAreBots,” Zarif said.

Twitter declined to comment when contacted by Reuters in the United States.

Iranian media have accused Israel, Saudi Arabia, and exiled opposition groups, including the Mujahideen Khalq which has some members based in Albania, of being behind social media campaigns calling for the overthrow of the Islamic government

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

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Potter

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