Twitter blocks Trump, but green-lights Khamenei’s call for genocide

by WorldTribune Staff, July 30, 2020

The leader of a brutal, repressive regime which is the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism apparently has the green-light from Twitter to advocate for the destruction of Israel.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has posted several tweets in which he calls for the destruction of the “Zionist regime.” On May 21, he tweeted: “The only remedy until the removal of the Zionist regime is firm, armed resistance.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. / Wikimedia Commons

At a Knesset hearing on Wednesday, a Twitter official said Khamenei’s calls for genocide do not violate the company’s rules against hate speech, and indicated that they are considered mere “foreign policy saber-rattling.”

“We have an approach toward leaders that says that direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on military-economic issues are generally not in violation of our rules,” Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s head policy for the Nordic countries and Israel, told the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, via video-conference.

Pettersson was responding to a question on why Twitter attached a special label to a recent tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump noting that it violated the company’s rules, while Khamenei’s many tweets about his wish for Israel to be destroyed are left untouched.

“Calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on the political situation in certain countries is not okay?” asked Knesset Member Michal Cotler-Wunsh.

“If a world leader violates our rules but there 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 and allows people to click through if they wish to see that type of content,” Pettersson replied.

“That’s 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 and the risk that it could possibly inspire harm and similar actions.”

The Trump tweet on May 29 that was flagged ended with the words: “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

In addition to the warning label, Twitter disabled the public’s ability to “like” Trump’s post, but decided not to remove it “so the citizens can see what their political figures are commenting [on] and hold them accountable for it online,” said Pettersson.

“Wow. Twitter just admitted that tweets calling for genocide against Jews by Iranian leaders DON’T violate its policy!”, Cotler-Wunsh tweeted after the session ended. “This is a double standard. This is antisemitism.”

Hours after the Knesset session on Wednesday, Khameini posted a tweet calling the U.S. “Satan” and Israel its “chained dog.”

In May, Khamenei’s Facebook page featured a poster endorsing Israel’s destruction that invoked the term “final solution.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Iranian leader of calling for the genocide of Jews.

Also in May, Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, penned a letter to the Justice and Treasury departments calling for an investigation into Twitter for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran by allowing Khamenei’s tweets to stay up without any kind of censor.

Cruz had sent a letter to the social media giant in February requesting that it comply with U.S. law and stop providing services to the accounts.

“Twitter sent a letter back saying their company policy was to allow as much discussion as possible, and they apparently believe they are exempt from the criminal laws of this country,” Cruz told FOX Business on May 28. “So today, I asked the Department of Justice to open an investigation. Those sanction laws are designed to stop U.S. companies from facilitating Iranian terror.”

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