Twitter has been slammed for its double standards for flagging posts by Donald Trump while Iran’s Ayatollah can call for ‘genocide’ of the Israeli people.
The social media giant says the dictator’s anti-Semitic tweets calling Israel a ‘cancerous growth’ pass as ‘commentary on political issues of the day’, while President Trump’s tweets ‘could inspire harm’.
During a Knesset hearing on antisemitism in social media Wednesday, human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky questioned why the President’s tweets were flagged but not those of Ayatollah Khamenei, who ‘literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people’.
It comes as Twitter faced criticism for suspending the Twitter account of Donald Trump Jr. for 12 hours after he tweeted a video promoting hydroxychloroquine as cure for coronavirus.
On June 23, Twitter placed a public interest notice on one of Trump’s tweets, after he wrote: ‘There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!’
The notice read: ‘We’ve placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group.’
Questioning the perceived double standards, Ostrovsky asked Twitter’s Ylwa Pettersson: ‘You have recently started flagging the tweets of President Trump.
‘Why have you not flagged the tweets of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, who has literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people?’
Pettersson defended the decision, justifying the flagging of Trump’s tweets by saying they could ‘inspire harm’.
She replied: ‘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 sabre-rattling on military, economic issues are generally not in violation –‘
She was interrupted by Knesset member Michal Cotler-Wunsh who sought to clarify the question: ‘So, calling for genocide is okay, but commenting on politics is not?’
Pettersson replied: ‘So if a world leader violates are rules but there is a clear interest in keeping that up on the serves we may place that behind a notice that provides 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.’
In May, Trump faced backlash and Twitter placed a notice on his post about violence occurring during George Floyd demonstrations.
In one Twitter post, Trump wrote: ‘Just spoke to [Minnesota] 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.’
During the same month, Khamenei compared the state of Israel to a ‘cancerous tumor’ in a Twitter post.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the tweets, saying: ‘The United States condemns Supreme Leader Khamenei’s disgusting and hateful anti-Semitic remarks. They have no place on Twitter or on any other social media platform.
‘We know Khamenei’s vile rhetoric does not represent the Iranian people’s tradition of tolerance.’
The accusation of double standards comes after Republicans criticized Twitter for suspending the account of Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, after he posted a link on Monday evening to a viral video of a doctor claiming hydroxychloroquine is a ‘cure’ for coronavirus and calling it ‘must watch.’
‘We’ve temporarily limited some of your account features,’ the Twitter notice to the president’s eldest son read, adding it would be in effect for 12 hours.
‘We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically, for: 1. Violating the policy on spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19,’ it continued.
Andrew Surabian, a spokesman to Don Jr., posted an image of the notice to Twitter Tuesday morning, lamenting: ‘Big Tech is the biggest threat to free expression in America today & they’re continuing to engage in open election interference – full stop.’