Twitter executives and employees remained silent Thursday after Iran’s Ayatollah labeled the United States the “embodiment of Satan” and Israel its “chained dog” just hours after suspending Donald Trump Jr. for posting a video about the Coronavirus.
A Twitter representative told Israel’s parliament the company is allowing Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to issue threats of genocide on the platform because it amounts to “commentary on political issues of the day,” at the same time the platform has been labeling some tweets by President Donald Trump as violent to help “public conversation.”
“We have an approach to our leaders that … say direct interactions with public figures, comments on public issues of the day, or foreign-policy saber-rattling on military, economic issues are generally not in violation of our rules,” said Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s head of policy for the Nordic countries and Israel.
Twitter Justifies Allowing Iran to Threaten Genocide https://t.co/srCpx1GwGq
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 31, 2020
A dumbfounded member of the chamber, Michal Cotler-Wunsh, asked for clarification. “So calling for genocide is OK but commenting on politics is not, just so we understand? I just want to fine-tune the question. Calling for genocide on Twitter is OK, but commenting on political situations in certain countries is not OK?” according to Mediaite.
A Twitter representative attempted to assure her that the platform would “take action against messages that were especially grotesque,” pointing to Trump as an example…seriously!!! “If a world leader violates our rules, but it is a clear interest in keeping that up on the service, we may place it behind a notice that provides some more context about the violation,” she said. “That is what happened for the Trump tweet. That tweet was violating our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line of that tweet.” Give me a break.
Twitter has placed warning labels for violence on two of Trump’s tweets. Pettersson was presumably referring to the first one, when Trump tweeted in May, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The second incident occurred in June, when Trump tweeted that any protesters who attempted to create a lawless “autonomous zone” in Washington, D.C. would be met with “serious force.”
According to Twitter, it is perfectly acceptable for Iran to call for the open murder of Jews but a handful of credible & certified doctors aren’t able to share good news about saving lives from the Chinese Virus
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) July 31, 2020
Former U.S. officials have been critical of Twitter’s decision to enable Khamenei. “Social media needs to give conservatives the same rights as they give terrorist leaders,” former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley wrote on Twitter Thursday. Former National Intelligence Chief Ric Grenell called on Congress last week to investigate the company.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on May 29 tweeted screenshots of tweets from Khamenei that threatened Israel and went unflagged by Twitter, according to Fox News.
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) May 29, 2020
Khamenei’s tweets call Israel “cancerous,” saying it will be “undoubtedly uprooted and destroyed,” and say Iran will “support and assist any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime.”