Twitter is allowing official Iranian government accounts to issue death threats against former president Donald Trump and other Trump administration officials.
Twitter's refusal to remove these ongoing threats is renewing congressional scrutiny on the social media platform. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime's paramilitary fighting force that engages in terrorism and assassination plots, tweeted during the weekend that it will take revenge for the death of terror mastermind Qassem Soleimani, who two years ago was killed in Iraq in a drone strike ordered by Trump.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran considers vengeance against those responsible for the Baghdad crime to be the right of all believers; whether they are drops in the ocean or bits of sand in the desert they'll seek vengeance next to the criminals' homes," the corps's official account tweeted in Farsi, alongside a picture of Trump golfing. The post was independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon.
وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ
جمهوری اسلامی ایران #انتقام از #آمران جنایت فرودگاه بغداد را حق مسلم و امری حتمی می داند ؛
اگر قطرهای شوند در اقیانوسها یا ریگی در بیابان، بی شک عدالت جویانی در #کنار_خانه_هایشان ،انتقام جنایات آنها را خواهند گرفت. pic.twitter.com/qnP0oblNDb
— کانال سپاه پاسداران | IRGC (@Sepah_FA) January 9, 2022
The tweet is the latest Iranian threat, online and elsewhere, to assassinate Trump and other senior U.S. officials—including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo—for their role in Soleimani's killing. Republican lawmakers in comments to the Free Beacon said that Twitter continues to unevenly uphold its community guidelines. Violence and threats are not tolerated on the platform, and prominent conservative voices, including Trump, have been banned from the platform for alleged infractions. Top Iranian officials, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and scores of other terrorist groups, however, use Twitter to promote violence against the United States, Israel, Jews, and other U.S. allies.
"So, the leftist oligarchs at Twitter will allow the [guard corps] to tweet death threats at President Trump but will deplatform him for calling for a peaceful protest?" Rep. Greg Steube (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said to the Free Beacon. "Last I checked, making death threats is inciting violence."
Rep. Pat Fallon (R., Texas), a House Armed Services Committee member, also accused Twitter of failing to impartially uphold its guidelines.
"In Twitter's safety rules and polices, they say, ‘You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people.' If this is the case, why is the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, allowed to threaten to kill President Donald Trump?" Fallon asked. "Not only is Twitter exclusively censoring conservatives, but now they are letting Iran's armed forces issue death threats to a former sitting president. Twitter needs to consider following their own policies and immediately remove this tweet."
Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), also an Armed Services Committee member, expressed similar concerns about Twitter, saying the social media network "seems to be okay" with threats that target Trump.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment on why the tweet remains active and whether that tweet violates the company's guidelines.
Twitter has repeatedly found itself in the hot seat in Congress for what Republicans and conservatives allege is a double standard when it comes to policing content. Critics say that Twitter is biased against conservatives and routinely targets prominent right-leaning accounts while allowing Democrats and left-leaning accounts to engage in rhetoric that violates the platform's rules.
Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey said in a 2018 interview that the company is largely dominated by liberal voices. Conservatives, he said, "don't feel safe to express their opinions."
Dorsey testified before Congress in 2020 following Twitter's decision to ban a New York Post article that detailed the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop. While the company apologized for the move, calling it wrongheaded in retrospect, the incident provided fodder for conservative critics of the platform, who maintain Twitter and other social media networks attempted to sway the 2020 election in favor of President Joe Biden.
House Republicans in 2021 introduced legislation to ban social media networks from providing accounts to designated terrorists and terror groups. The bill was part of a larger effort to crack down on violent online rhetoric that ultimately did not pass Congress.