Twitter Justifies Allowing Iran to Threaten Genocide: ‘Commentary on Political Issues of the Day’


A Twitter representative told Israel’s parliament the company is allowing Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to issue threats of genocide on the platform because it amounts to “commentary on political issues of the day,” at the same time the platform has been labeling some tweets by President Donald Trump as violent to help “public conversation.”

“We have an approach to our leaders that … say direct interactions with public figures, comments on public 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 of policy for the Nordic countries and Israel, told the Knesset this week.

A dumbfounded member of the chamber, Michal Cotler-Wunsh, asked for clarification. “So calling for genocide is OK but commenting on politics is not, just so we understand? I just want to fine-tune the question. Calling for genocide on Twitter is OK, but commenting on political situations in certain countries is not OK?”

Pettersson assured her that the platform would take action against messages that were especially grotesque, pointing to Trump as an example. “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,” she said. “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.”

Twitter has placed warning labels for violence on two of Trump’s tweets. Pettersson was presumably referring to the first one, when Trump tweeted in May, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The second incident occurred in June, when Trump tweeted that any protesters who attempted to create a lawless “autonomous zone” in Washington, D.C. would be met with “serious force.”

Khamenei drew attention this month when he said Iran would “definitely strike a reciprocal blow” over Gen. Qasem Soleimani’s “martyrdom.” Soleimani was killed in January by a U.S. drone in Baghdad, where he was reportedly attempting to foment violence against American forces in the region.

Cotler-Wunsh said the dynamic had led to a sense of “double standards,” adding, “I would implore Twitter and other online platforms to ensure … that there is no double standard.”

Former U.S. officials have been critical of Twitter’s decision to enable Khamenei. “Social media needs to give conservatives the same rights as they give terrorist leaders,” former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley wrote on Twitter Thursday. Former national intelligence chief Ric Grenell called last week for Congress to investigate the company.

Watch above via the Knesset.

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