Twitter execs refused Israel’s request to remove Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei tweets

Aug 02, 2020 Article

 

 

By Ebony Bowden  July 30, 2020 | 3:44pm

Twitter executives last month rebuffed a request from the Israeli government to remove tweets from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for the genocide of the Israeli people — claiming in a stunning letter obtained by The Post that the Jew-hate qualified as “comments on current affairs.”

The decision comes after the social media giant recently began policing President Trump’s tweets, alleging they “glorify violence” and spread misinformation about mail-in voting.

In a May 20 letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen called for the company to uphold its own hate speech policy and remove antisemitic tweets from Khamenei calling Israel a “cancerous growth” to be “uprooted and destroyed.”

“Twitter’s own Hateful Conduct Policy clearly stipulates that a user “may not promote violence against, or directly attack, or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religious affiliation… or calls for mass murder,” Farkash-Hacohen wrote to Dorsey.

“However, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is unremittingly abusing your platform by doing just that — without any enforcement or repercussions,” she continued.

“For far too long he has been allowed to spread calls for physical violence and antisemitism on Twitter,” she added.

But in a tone-deaf response, Twitter’s Vice President of Public Policy Sinéad McSweeney said the hateful screed did not violate their policies.

“World leaders use Twitter to engage in discourse with each other, as well as their constituents,” McSweeney wrote in the June 15 letter obtained by the Post.

“Presently, our policies with regards to world leaders state that direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on current affairs, or strident statements of foreign policy on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules,” she continued.

“Our assessment is that tweets you have cited are not in violation of our policies at this time, and they fall into the category of foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues of our approach to world leaders,” McSweeney wrote.

Twitter’s refusal to remove the Iranian dictator’s tweets have led to accusations of “double standards” from Israeli lawmakers after the social media giant recently began restricting President Trump’s tweets, claiming they were misinformation or promoted violence.

In May, Twitter slapped a “public interest notice” on the president’s tweet during unrest in Minneapolis over George Floyd’s death in which he warned: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Twitter masked the tweet, saying its commentary on riots after Floyd’s death at the hands of police broke a rule against “glorifying violence.”

Several days earlier, the social media giant took the unprecedented step of labeling two tweets from Trump as “promoting misinformation” after he claimed that mail-in ballots are fraudulent.

The repeated policing of Trump’s tweets — and, recently, the suspension of his son Donald Trump Jr.’s account — but not hateful missives from other leaders, including Khamenei, has led to accusations of censorship and political bias.

In a story Thursday, the Post detailed how a Twitter spokeswoman tried to justify the censoring of Trump, but not the leader of a basket-case Middle Eastern regime, during a hearing in front of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem.

The Twitter rep claimed that tweets from the Iranian leader — where he has publicly likened Israel to the COVID-19 pandemic and a virus to be stopped — amounted to little more than “foreign policy saber-rattling.”

“Calling for genocide on Twitter is OK, but commenting on political situations in certain countries is not OK?” one stunned lawmaker asked.

The Post last month revealed how Twitter’s site integrity chief had a history of making incendiary anti-Trump comments on the platform, including claiming that there were “actual Nazis in the White House.”

Khamenei has also pushed holocaust-denial on the website, but during the hearing at the Knesset on Wednesday, Twitter insisted they couldn’t do anything about it unless it was “targeted harassment.”

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