News & Politics

Twitter Suspends Account Linked to Iran's Supreme Leader—Well, One of Them, Anyway

Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

Twitter suspended one of several accounts linked to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after it posted an aerial view of Donald Trump golfing with the message, “Revenge is definite.”

The image violated the company’s platform manipulation and spam policy, “specifically the creation of fake accounts.”

Twitter’s inconsistency in banning some accounts that hint at violence while allowing others to exist has been one of the driving forces behind efforts to regulate Big Tech companies. It’s clear that Twitter’s biases are so pronounced that the company can’t make intelligent determinations about what is violent speech and what isn’t.

Fox News:

It is unclear whether the suspended @Khamenei_site account in question was an official account belonging to Khamenei. Twitter did not immediately say how it determined the account was “fake.”

The image shared a statement that Khamenei initially tweeted in December, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Friday.

“Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani, as well as those who carried this out, should be punished,” a translated version of the tweet from Khamenei said, according to the outlet. “This revenge will certainly happen at the right time.”

Khamenei could have been banned for dozens of anti-Semitic and threatening tweets about Israel, but Twitter’s weird policy on what the company considers protected speech leaves a lot to be desired.

Twitter has come under fire for not suspending the ayatollah’s account after he shared threatening or violent messages in the same way that it has removed posts or accounts belonging to American politicians — including Trump — for making unverified claims about fraud in the presidential election.

Khamenei has tweeted threats of “revenge” against the U.S. from his @Khamenei_ir account in response to the U.S. military killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.

The ayatollah also has several tweets on his profile that call for the “elimination” of Israel, or [the] “Zionist regime.” In a May 21 tweet, he wrote: “The only remedy until the removal of the Zionist regime is firm, armed resistance.”

Apparently, Twitter doesn’t consider threats like that out of bounds.

Twitter has previously said that when political leaders’ tweets are about “comments on political issues of the day” or “foreign policy saber-rattling on military and economic issues,” they are “generally not in violation of our Twitter rules.”

But what if those comments come from an ignorant religious fanatic? Then, I guess it’s just fine.

Khamenei’s main Twitter account has 880,000 followers and continues to spew violent hate. Twitter hasn’t seen fit to suspend or ban that account despite numerous and obvious opportunities to do so. If Congress ends up bringing the hammer down on Twitter for this kind of double standard, the company will only have itself to blame.

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