A Twitter spokeswoman told a member of the Israeli parliament that censoring the tweets of President Trump is all well and good, but censoring the tweets of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called for the genocide of the Israeli people, is not.
The Twitter spokesperson argued that Twitter had not flagged Khameini’s tweets as they did Trump’s because “foreign policy saber-rattling on military and economic issues are generally not in violation of our Twitter rules” but flagging Trump’s tweet was fine because it amounted to “violating our policies regarding the glorification of violence” and “could possibly inspire harm.”
“Iran’s leader has repeatedly shared tweets calling Israel a ‘deadly, cancerous growth’ to be ‘uprooted and destroyed’ — all going unchecked by Twitter. ‘The long-lasting virus of Zionism will be uprooted thanks to the determination and faith of the youth,’ Khamenei wrote as recently as May,” the New York Post reported, adding, “In May, Twitter placed a ‘public interest notice’ on the president’s tweet amid violence in Minneapolis which read: ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ leading to accusations of censorship and political bias.”
Arsen Ostrovsky, a human rights lawyer and executive director of the Israeli-Jewish Congress, asked, “I have a simple question: You have recently started flagging the tweets of President Trump. Why have you not flagged the tweets of Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people?”
The Twitter spokesperson answered, “So we have an approach to world leaders that presently say that direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on military and economic issues are generally not in violation of our Twitter rules.”
Legislator Michal Cotler-Wunsh interjected, “So calling for genocide is okay, but commenting on politics is not? Just so we understand. I just want to fine-tune the question. Calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on political situations on a certain country is not okay?”
The spokesperson said: “So 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 and allows people to click through if they wish to see that type of content. And 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 and the risk that it could possibly inspire harm and similar actions.”
“As it was in the interest of the public to keep it on the platform we decided to keep it up, place it behind a notice, put a label on it as you might say, to limit the interaction with it because it is of importance to have it remain so that the citizens can see what their political figures are commenting and hold them accountable for what they’re saying online,” she added.
Cotler-Wunsh replied, “So that’s important. I think what’s coming up again and again, through different examples, is a sense of double standards. And I would implore Twitter and other online platforms, to ensure, I think that’s your responsibility and that you have to be held to account for that, that there is no double standard …”
This should be something the US media reports. Wow. https://t.co/y5iCNwx7yZ
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) July 29, 2020