Twitter is under fire after defending its decision to allow Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to call for genocide on the platform, while censoring tweets from US President Donald Trump.
During an Israeli parliament hearing on Wednesday, international human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky asked a Twitter representative why the company has recently started flagging tweets by Trump, but not Iran’s Khamenei “who has literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people” on the social media platform.
“Foreign policy saber-rattling on political economic issues are generally not in violation of our Twitter rules,” answered Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s head policy for the Nordic countries and Israel, via video conference.
I kid you not! At Knesset hearing on Antisemitism, @Twitter rep tells me they flag @realDonaldTrump because it serves ‘public conversation’, but not Iran's @khamenei_ir call for GENOCIDE, which passes for acceptable 'commentary on political issues of the day'. cc. @CotlerWunsh pic.twitter.com/AXwjkrvlql— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) July 29, 2020
“Calling for genocide on Twitter is okay - but commenting on political situations in certain countries is not okay?” replied Israeli parliament member Michal Cotler-Wunsh. In May, Twitter hid a tweet by Trump, where the American president wrote that looters at protests in Minneapolis would be shot.
Pettersson then said that Trump’s tweet “was violating our policies regarding the glorification of violence…and the risk that it could possibly inspire harm.”
“If a world leader violates our rules, but it is a clear interest in keeping it on the service, we may place it behind a notice that provides more context about the violation and allows people to click through if they wish to see that kind of content,” she added.
Meanwhile Khamenei’s tweets comparing Israel to “a cancerous tumor” and advocating for fighting Israel, whose “virus of Zionism will be uprooted” have not been censored by Twitter.
The Zionist regime is the most evident example of state terrorism. Ever since Britain’s anti-Islamic, antihuman policies put the Zionists to rule in #Palestine, they have been acting like a cancerous tumor, furthering their goals by massacring children, women and men.#FlyTheFlag— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 19, 2020
Some argue that the Zionist regime is a reality that the region must come to terms with. Today the #Covid_19 is a reality; should it be accepted or fought?!— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 22, 2020
The long-lasting virus of Zionism will be uprooted thanks to the determination and faith of the youth. #Covid1948
Khamenei has also tweeted a graphic “9 key questions about elimination of Israel,” which he asserts that “armed resistance is the cure of this ruinous regime.”
In May, Khamenei tweeted about Israel: “One cannot communicate with a savage enemy except by force.”
This change in equation in occupied lands will bring the question of Palestine closer to final steps. Palestinian Authority has a great responsibility in this regard. One cannot communicate with a savage enemy except by force &brave people of Palestine are set to gain this power.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 22, 2020
So far, Twitter has not censored any of the abovementioned posts by Khamenei.
The remarks by the Twitter representative have caused a stir on the platform, with users calling the differing policies towards Trump's and Khamenei's content a “double standard.”
When @Twitter rep says @realDonaldTrump tweet violated their standards for "glorification of violence and the risk that it can possibly inspire harm", but is totally cool with @khamenei_ir straight up calling for genocide. Makes perfect sense. Not. https://t.co/gx8uddTEb6— Heather Gustafson (@mommymcgraw) July 29, 2020
Republican Senator Ted Cruz weighed in, saying that while Twitter censors “free speech of many conservatives – including the President – the Ayatollah Khamenei’s account remains active and is posting #antiSemitic tweets promoting genocide.”
As @jack and @Twitter continue to censor the free speech of many conservatives – including the President – the Ayatollah Khamenei’s account remains active and is posting #antiSemitic tweets promoting genocide.https://t.co/Jr2xWuwvM7— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) July 29, 2020