A Twitter senior official supported on Wednesday the decision to attach a special label to a tweet by President Donald Trump about violent protests but said that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s posts inciting violence against Israel count as comments on political issues, according to The Times of Israel.
“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 said when testifying via video-conference at an Israeli Knesset—Israel’s parliament—committee meeting, reported The Times of Israel.
Petterson’s statement was a response to a question asked during the hearing by Arsen Ostrovsky, a human rights lawyer, and pro-Israel activist. He asked why Twitter started flagging President Trump’s posts but have not flagged the tweets of Khamenei who called to destroy Israel.
Member of Knesset Michal Cotler-Wunsh asked Petterson explicitly whether calling for genocide on Twitter is okay but commenting on a political situation was not okay.
“If a world leader violates our rules but there is a clear interest in keeping that upon 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 responded, according to The Times of Israel.
“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,” she added.
Cotler-Wunsh called it “a sense of double standards,” according to Fox News.
Trump said on Twitter on May 29 referring to protests that erupted after the death of George Floyd in police custody:
….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
Khamenei posted a series of messages in May that call for armed resistance:
The elimination of the Zionist regime does not mean the massacre of the Jewish ppl. The ppl of Palestine should hold a referendum. Any political sys they vote for should govern in all of Palestine. The only remedy until the removal of the Zionist regime is firm, armed resistance.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 21, 2020
We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this.#FlyTheFlag
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 20, 2020
In 2014 Khamenei posted his plan to eliminate Israel on Twitter:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 9, 2014
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in his post that Twitter violated sanctions on Iran by providing Ayatollah Khamenei with services. He urged the U.S. Attorney General William Barr to open a criminal investigation into those violations.
Twitter's violating sanctions on Iran by providing the Ayatollah Khamenei w/ account services & I've urged AG Barr to open a criminal investigation into those violations. Now we learn Twitter is allowing him spread #Antisemitic vitriol & hatred against America on its platform. https://t.co/0UZQFglUB0
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) July 29, 2020
Twitter’s policy regarding content promoting terrorism says, “You may not threaten or promote terrorism or violent extremism.” In the assessment, whether posted messages violate this rule Twitter is “informed by national and international terrorism designations,” and also uses its own “violent extremist group criteria.”
Private Big Techs Accused of Censoring User Content
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said at a congressional hearing held also on Wednesday dedicated to examining the dominance of four big tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, “Big Tech is out to get conservatives. … That’s not a suspicion, that’s not a hunch. That’s a fact.”
Jordan provided several examples of private companies censoring their users’ content. Google and YouTube censored in April content that contradicted the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), Amazon censored Trump’s account on Twitter, after he commented on defunding the police, and a book critical of the lockdown “written by a conservative commentator.”
Twitter also censored Trump for saying that “he will enforce the rule of law against any autonomous zone,” Jordan said.