Instagram influencer images are seen as a crime in Iran

Instagram influencer images are seen as a crime in Iran

Growing up in Iran, Fatemeh Khishvand dreamed of becoming famous, posting selfies on Instagram in the hope of getting noticed.

Typical enough – only Ms Khishvand’s selfies were anything but.

They were heavily doctored photos in which her face appeared gaunt, distorted, and enhanced by make-up.

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In a BBC report, posted under a pseudonym, Sahar Tabar, the photos were so striking they attracted international media attention when they first appeared in 2017.

In some, Ms Khishvand bore an uncanny resemblance to American actress Angelina Jolie. This led to false rumours that the teen had undergone 50 cosmetic surgeries to look like the Hollywood star but, as she would later clarify, the Corpse Bride character from Tim Burton’s titular musical fantasy was her true inspiration.

Soon, her alter ego had almost 500,000 followers on Instagram, earning her the fame she had always desired.

But that fame came at a price.

In Iran, it can be dangerous to post on social media. The country’s Shia Muslim authorities enforce strict laws about what can and cannot be posted. To them, Ms Khishvand’s photos were seen as crimes, not the clever Photoshop trickery of a teenage girl.

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