Roya Nobakht, 47, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Iran for comments on Facebook that allegedly insulted the country's leadership. "Social media" can be a dangerous place.

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Nobakht and her husband

Nobakht, who holds both U.K. and Iranian citizenship, posted comments on Facebook while visiting friends in Iran that allegedly helped crowds to gather, put national security at risk, and insulted Islam after criticizing former supreme leader the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Mirror reported May 30.

The Guardian also reported on the jailing.

She has been held at Evin Prison, described by Fox News as "Hell on earth."

Nobakht’s husband, Daryoush Taghipoor, 47, spent two months in Iran searching mortuaries, hospitals and police stations when she did not return to her home in Manchester earlier this year.

Metro News of the U.K. carried a picture of the couple, describing her as a part-time student at Stockport College and "housewife."

Sources said Nobakht "confessed" after being tortured and is enduring insufferable conditions in the prison. She has told friends she would rather die than spend 20 years there.

The Foreign Office of the U.K. government says it is investigating the imprisonment. Seven other people were jailed in Iran at about the same time on charges of blasphemy and insulting the country’s supreme leader on Facebook. The terms ran from seven to 19 years.

Social Media Also Dangerous in U.S.

The punishments doled out by Iran, as well as the policies of many companies and organizations in the U.S., indicate that these entities regard statements on social media to be as powerful as statements in traditional media.

Those who express thoughts deemed harmful to an organization or company may not face prison terms but they could lose their jobs and short-circuit their careers. Postings anywhere on the web remain there indefinitely.

Viacom, controlled by Sumner Redstone who also owns 77% of CBS, exercises strict control over anything said for or about the company by employees or suppliers in blogs, social media, outside jobs, chat rooms and paid or unpaid charity work. Offenders will be "disciplined," it was said.

Village Voice expose of the policy called it "48 pages of internal corporate terrorism."

Media contacts were highlighted. Only company spokespeople may deal with the media. "You may not comment on or provide documents or information to members of the news media or post on the internet or otherwise publicly share information regarding matters pertaining to Viacom’s or your company’s business or any other internal matter." Forbidden are "all media contacts whether ‘on the record,’ ‘off the record,’ unattributed, anonymous or 'background' information."

PR Society of America has a similar media policy which restricts statements for or about the Society to the CEO, COO, chair and VP-PR. 

Any press inquiries about the Society are to be reported to the VP-PR, it is said.

The Society exercises strict control over use of its website, considering all searches to be the "property" of the Society. Those who are even "suspected" of misuse can have their access rights suspended without a hearing. This has happened to two members in recent months.