World Bulletin / News Desk
Facebook - banned in Iran due to its use by activists to rally government opponents in 2009 - has an unlikely new member: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Launched a few days ago, the Facebook page "Khamenei.ir" displays photographs of the 73-year-old cleric alongside speeches and pronouncements by the man who wields ultimate power in the Islamic Republic.
While there are several other Facebook pages already devoted to Khamenei, the new one - whose number of "likes" quadrupled on Monday to over 1,000 - appeared to be officially authorised, rather than merely the work of admirers.
The page has been publicised by a Twitter account of the same name that Iran experts believe is run by Khamenei's office.
Khamenei's Facebook page has so far shared a picture of a young Khamenei alongside the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in the early 1960s.
It shares a similar tone, style and content with accounts devoted to disseminating Khamenei's message on Twitter and Instagram and to the website www.khamenei.ir, a sophisticated official website published in 13 languages.
Experts said the social media accounts showed that Iran, despite restricting access to such sites inside the country, was keen to use them to spread its world view to a global audience.
"Social media gives the regime leadership another medium of communication, one that can share their message with a younger and far more international demographic," said Afshon Ostovar, a Middle East analyst at CNA, a U.S.-based research organisation.
Iranian authorities have said they are trying to build a national intranet.Last Mod: 18 Aralık 2012, 11:03