Twitter Greenlights Ayatollah's Calls for Genocide

Platform has removed Trump tweets for ‘glorifying violence’

July 29, 2020

Twitter came under fire Wednesday during a meeting of the Knesset—Israel's unicameral legislature—for allowing Iran's Supreme Leader to post anti-Semitic tweets promoting genocide.

The social media platform has refused to apply the same standards to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that it holds President Donald Trump to. Many of the president’s tweets have been taken down for "glorifying violence," while the Ayatollah’s tweets—some of which advocate for the genocide of Israeli Jews—remain untouched.

Twitter's head of policy for the Nordics and Israel Ylwa Pettersson came before the Knesset to answer questions related to digital policy on political speech. When the topic of Khamenei's tweets came up, a line of intense questioning emerged.

"Calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on political situations in certain countries is not okay?" asked member of the Knesset Michal Cotler-Wunsh. "I think that what’s come up again and again through different examples is actually a sense of double standards," she added.

When Trump tweeted in May that he was willing to use the military to combat violent riots and said, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," Twitter suppressed the tweet with a warning that the post "violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence." But Twitter failed to take similar action against tweets from Khamenei that likened Israel to a "cancerous growth" and encouraged violence against Israelis.

This is not the first time in recent weeks Twitter has been lambasted by accusations of unfairly applied policies. National security adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) Omri Ceren argued last week that Twitter is breaking United States law by permitting Iranian state speech. 

According to Ceren, Twitter is "almost certainly in criminal violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because you provide services to Iranian officials designated under EO 13876."

Israeli international human-rights lawyer and executive director of the Israeli Jewish Congress Arsen Ostrovsky added his own frustrations about the hearing. "The blatant hypocrisy and double standard from the Twitter representative was jarring and shocking," Ostrovsky told the Washington Free Beacon. 

"She literally looked us in the face and said that the Iranian leader's call for genocide against Israel and Jews was an acceptable form of political discourse," Ostrovsky said. "Twitter cannot on the one hand say it is committed to tackling hate and violence, when it continues to provide an unfiltered platform to the Iranian leader to continue espousing calls for genocide and terror."

Published under: Iran , Twitter