An Iranian intelligence official offered money to them to delete Instagram accounts belonging journalists and activists, a content moderator in Persian for Instagram and an ex-content moderator.

I was offered 5,000 to 10,000 euro [$5,350-10,700; PS4,250-9000] to delete my account. The former reviewer said to BBC Persian that they were particularly after Masih Alinejad was removed.

Ms. Alinejad, an Iranian-American activist and author, is a member of the Alinejad family. The US justice department stated last year that Iranian officials tried to lure Ms Alinejad, a New York-based journalist, to a third country in order to kidnap and capture her.

The content moderators also accused Iranian colleagues of having “pro-regime biases” in reviewing posts on the photo-sharing site.

After many Iranian Instagram users complained about posts about anti-government protests in Iran being deleted, they spoke with the BBC. Meta Platforms, the owner of Instagram, and the third party company that it uses to moderate its content, denied the claims.

Protests broke out in several provinces this month, after the Iranian government cut subsidies to basic food items. This caused prices to soar.

Protestors chanted slogans against President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Al Khamenei, quickly turning the unrest into a political demonstration.

Protestors were brutally repressed by security forces. Unconfirmed reports claim that at least five people were shot to death.

Protests were not covered by Iranian state media. Iranians relied on Instagram and other social media platforms to find out what was happening in Iran. Users noticed that certain videos uploaded to Instagram were being deleted as the unrest continued.

1500tasvir (“1500images”) was one of the complainants. This popular account, run by opposition activists and trolled on Thursday that it was informed by Instagram that its account was being restricted to “protect our communities”.

1500tasvir called this move “unbelievable” warning that it was the only way Iranians could connect with the outside world, especially those who live in small towns or villages.

It claimed that “Instagram is acting in Iran’s favor”

Under investigation

According to the BBC, the former content moderator said he knew “some reviewers who supported Iran’s regime and was given instructions by Iran”.

Like the moderator, the man spoke under anonymity. He worked for Telus International. This third-party company handles complaints and reports from Instagram users.

He said, “A reviewer can delete a post that has already been reported and not face any serious consequences.”

“Auditors will realize that your accuracy rate can drop by a small percentage.

Telus International, which has Persian-language moderators based in Germany, stated to the BBC that although it believed the allegations to be false, it took them seriously and launched an investigation into them.

In a statement, the company stated that it had never had any connections to Iran’s government.

It stated that reviewers are not allowed to add political or personal opinions to their jobs by using the processes in place.

“Our team reviews a random set of content to determine whether it violates the policies, standards, and guidelines of our client. This eliminates any subjectivity.

“These decisions are regularly audited for accuracy to detect biases. These claims have not been validated by additional reviews.

Telus International stated that all moderators it hires have undergone a thorough screening process, which included a background check to verify their qualifications.