Kayhan London, which began operations in June 1984 in the United Kingdom, is a member of the Kayhan Publishing group, founded by the late Dr. Mostafa Mesbahzadeh in 1942 in Tehran. It published several dailies, broadsheets, and weekly and monthly magazines.
Kayhan Publishing established the first journalism college, the School of Social Communication Sciences, in 1965 in Iran. After the 1979 Revolution, the Islamic Republic dismantled many educational institutions or took over their administration. As a result, the School of Social Communication Sciences became the Faculty of Communication Sciences.
Kayhan Publishing’s flagship newspaper, the Kayhan daily, with a wide circulation and readership, was a vital source of news and information about developments in Iran and the Middle East.
However, the paper became a propaganda tool for the Islamic Republic after 1979. The Kayhan daily quickly became a hardline newspaper, serving the aims of the founder of the Islamic Revolution, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and his successor, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Kayhan soon became the most-hated daily with the lowest readership. Kayhan’s other publications were shut down or used for brainwashing the public.
Dr. Mesbahzadeh restarted Kayhan as a weekly newspaper in exile five years after the Islamic Revolution in 1984. Kayhan was published in 50 countries for 30 years. Before the Internet, it was the only viable source of information linking Iranian communities abroad.
Kayhan had a large readership who cherished and trusted the paper’s reporting of news and analysis of events. It was very popular among Iranians, because it exposed the Islamic Republic’s oppressive policies and human rights violations while highlighting the economic, social, and cultural achievements of the Pahlavi era, including protecting women’s rights.
Kayhan London stopped printing a hard copy of the paper in August 2013 and published its content on the internet instead.
Kayhan London constantly updates its online pages, providing up-to-the-minute news and analysis about events in Iran. It has also continued to publish its weekly edition online. In the past 38 years, Kayhan London has consistently published news, articles, and opinion pieces that defended democracy and exposed the Islamic Republic’s oppressive regime.
From the start, Kayhan London has published its readers’ views and comments, irrespective of their political affiliations, in two columns, “opinion” and “free tribune.” Kayhan London has consistently refused to publish the views of religious fanatics, ethnic nationalists, racists, warmongers, and violent right-wing and left-wing extremists. It has promoted peace and the normalization of relations between nations and world governments. It has consistently condemned violence and defended human rights and civil disobedience. In its reports, photographs, and videos, Kayhan London has always protected the identities and privacy of ordinary people who do not have a public role.
Material published by the Persian-language Kayhan London, the English-language Kayhan Life, and our websites adheres strictly to the paper’s editorial guidelines and global journalistic standards. The material published in Kayhan London is identical to those posted on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
We at Kayhan London are acutely aware of these social media platforms’ rules and regulations and have always adhered to them despite our concerns about some actions by these companies which violate our rights as professional journalists to free speech and free press as guaranteed by the European laws.
Instagram even exercises “self-censorship” sometimes by scrutinizing social media content and material published on its feeds by newspapers or television networks.
For instance, Instagram removed several photographs because they reportedly showed a naked woman. The content was included in videos which showed the woman’s arms and neck.
There have been other instances when the social networking service has shown sensitivity to material published about the Islamic Republic and its leaders, in particular material published against the regime.
Kayhan posts the same content on social media that it publishes on its website. The material on Instagram is the same as what appears on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram. However, Instagram has repeatedly removed Kayhan London’s posts and blocked our main account and other accounts that have been set up. Why has the platform done that?
Instagram has yet to explain why it has removed content from Kayhan London’s main Instagram account, “@kayhanlondon,” which has 200,000 followers, or blocked the account for days and weeks.
While in previous instances the accounts were eventually restored, Instagram blocked the account on Feb. 6 without explanation.
Based on past experience, we set up a secondary account, “@kayhan.london,” enabling us to provide our readers with uninterrupted reports. Instagram went ahead and temporarily blocked this account, which has 14,000 followers, several times with no explanation, until it blocked it definitively on May 23. Instagram sent us a message 24 hours later, informing us that the account was blocked permanently.
Empress Farah, Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, and various international news organizations follow us on social media. After consulting some colleagues, we set up a third account, “kayhanlondon3,” on May 24. Instagram blocked the account almost immediately before we could post any reports on it. The account was then restored. Kayhan London received an email from the Facebook team and Meta Platforms, saying that an error had caused that account’s momentary closure.
Instagram has not said whether Kayhan London’s main account will be restored. Kayhan London has received many emails in recent weeks informing us that several of our older videos and posts have been removed from blocked accounts because of their musical content. We do not know the reason for this action. Kayhan has only been given the dates and times of the posts, but not received any specifications as regards the content, so we cannot properly investigate the problem.
A blue tick (verified badge) could have prevented Kayhan London’s Instagram account from being blocked. However, Instagram has never responded to Kayhan London’s request for a certified badge, despite being a registered company with professional and experienced management.
A verified badge is a check that appears next to an Instagram account’s name in searches and on the profile. It means that Instagram has confirmed that an account is the authentic presence of the public figure, celebrity, or brand it represents.
While many of the Islamic Republic’s leaders and senior officials are on social media, including Twitter, Telegram, and Facebook, all of these platforms are filtered in Iran.
Instagram has the most users of all social platforms in Iran and is the only one that is not filtered. Many young Iranians who used Telegram have switched to Instagram recently. Also, those interested in politics and social issues are active on Instagram, given that it does not censor content, even though the quality of internet connection is poor in Iran.
As a media outlet that defends the rights of the Iranian people and makes their voice heard worldwide, Kahan London has an extensive following on Instagram. Most of our users are in Iran. That is why we want an open and uncensored relationship with people in Iran through Instagram.
Instagram serves the interests of the Islamic Republic by filtering Kayhan London’s content, deleting its posts, and blocking its account.
In July 2021, the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) passed a draft bill on “Protecting Rights of Internet Users and Regulating Social Media Messaging Apps,” commonly known as the “Protection Scheme.” After widespread public criticism, the Majlis abandoned efforts to fast-track the bill, which has not yet become law.
Under the “Protection Scheme,” Iranian authorities would filter almost all popular messaging platforms if they did not file for an operation license and appoint a representative within four months of its ratification.
Preliminary investigations have shown that companies contacted by Instagram to monitor content may have blocked Kayhan London’s account and a few others. Certain sections of these companies or individuals working for them could have links to the Islamic Republic’s cyber and security units and lay the groundwork for blocking some accounts.
Recently, a Germany-based Persian-language moderator working for TELUS International said he was offered 5,000 to 10,000 euros ($5,350-$10,700) to delete certain Instagram accounts belonging to journalists and political activists.
TELUS International is a Canada-based third-party company responsible for dealing with reports and complaints from Instagram and Facebook users.
We can conclude that blocking Kayhan London’s Instagram account serves no other purpose but to filter and censor opposition voices to the Islamic Republic outside Iran.
On June 9, four months after Kayhan London’s main account was blocked, our Instagram page reappeared with some old posts, but we could not access the account or publish any new reports. Our password did not work, and we could not change it. We repeatedly received the same message, saying the account did not exist, and the password was invalid. By then, we had lost thousands of our followers.
We eventually received an email on June 20, which included a link informing us we could reset our password and access Kayhan London’s main account. That is how we rebooted our account.
Currently, our readers can access Kayhan London’s main account at “Instagram.com/kayhanlondon.”
We have maintained our third account, “Instagram.com/Kayhanlondone,” in case of any deletions of posts or blockage of our accounts in the future, even though we always adhere to the rules and guidelines.
Meanwhile, we continue our efforts to revive our second account “Instagram.com/Kayhan.london.”
Kayhan Publishing was founded 80 years ago in Tehran, and Kayhan London has been operating in exile for the past 38 years, making it one of the oldest Persian-language news organizations in the world.
Senior management of social media platforms must investigate and review various departments in their organizations.
Meanwhile, Kayhan London continues its efforts to get conclusive answers from Instagram.