Iranian intelligence agencies tried to bribe Instagram moderators to remove the pages of political activists and journalists from the social network. The BBC spoke to two Instagram employees who moderated Farsi-language content on the messenger.
“I was offered 5-10 thousand euros if I agreed to delete a particular blog. In particular, the customers wanted to get rid of Masih Alinejad’s account,” said the former moderator, one of the BBC’s interlocutors.
Alinejaj is a well-known American journalist of Iranian origin. Last summer, US authorities accused Iranian intelligence agencies of trying to kidnap her and take her to a third country. Iran denied that they were plotting the kidnapping.
Another moderator said that among his colleagues there were those who “showed pro-government sentiments in their work”, although moderators should remain neutral.
“A moderator can independently remove a post that has received a complaint, without any serious consequences for himself,” he explained. “If the auditor notices, the most serious thing that can happen is that your accuracy score will drop by one or two percent.”
Representatives of Telus International, the company that employs Instagram moderators, said in a BBC commentary that they consider the allegations to be insufficiently substantiated, but take them seriously and have already launched an internal investigation.
Meta Platforms issued the following statement: “We see no evidence for these claims. Our moderators remove [only] content that violates our rules.”