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Threats of genocide against the Jewish state by Iran’s supreme leader apparently don’t violate the rules on Twitter, the same platform that sometimes puts President Trump’s tweets in a timeout and engages in shadow-banning and/or routinely suspends user accounts of peaceful U.S. conservatives.
This inexplicable, astounding, and disturbing revelation emerged during a hearing in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) about social media anti-Semitism, when a human rights lawyer asked Twitter executive Ylwa Pettersson why the social media network flags Trump’s tweets but not those from Ayatollah Khameni.
“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 saber-rattling on military, economic issues, are generally not in violation.”
MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh then asked “So, calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on political situations in certain countries is not okay?”
“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 and allows people to click through if they want to see that type of content,” Pettersson replied.
“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.
“As it was in the interest of the public to keep that on the platform, we decided to keep it up, place it behind a note with a label on it…to limit the interaction with it, but because it is of importance to have it remain so that the citizens can see what their are commenting, and hold them for what they’re saying online.”
I kid you not! At Knesset hearing on Antisemitism, @Twitter rep tells me they flag @realDonaldTrump because it serves ‘public conversation’, but not Iran's @khamenei_ir call for GENOCIDE, which passes for acceptable 'commentary on political issues of the day'. cc. @CotlerWunsh pic.twitter.com/AXwjkrvlql
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) July 29, 2020
The lawmaker responded that accountability goes both ways.
“I think that what’s come up again and again through different examples is actually a sense of double standards, and I would implore Twitter and other online platforms to ensure, and think that is your responsibility, and you have to be held to account for that, that there is no double standard in the application.”
Arsen Ostrovsky, the executive director of the Israeli Jewish Congress and the lawyer who posed the question, told the Washington Free Beacon that “The blatant hypocrisy and double standard from the Twitter representative was jarring and shocking. 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.
“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.”
Along these lines, on a recent podcast, Massachusetts journalist Tom Shattuck quipped that if you are sensitive to double standards, 2020 has been a difficult year.
According to Mediaite, “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.'”
To provide some context, staunch U.S. ally Israel is the only functioning multicultural democracy in the Middle East. The U.S. government has designated the theocracy of Iran as the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism.”
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) July 30, 2020
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. pic.twitter.com/cfBhyOfFa9
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 20, 2020
In a related issue, executives with top-tier social media platforms are testifying this week on Capitol Hill during which they have denied censoring conservatives despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.
Reacting those hearings, The Five co-host Jesse Watters observed that “The Democrats in D.C. agree with the Democrats in Silicon Valley that hate speech and misinformation only comes from conservatives. So hate speech is anything that offends a Democrat, and misinformation is anything a Democrat disagrees with.”
Twitter recently suspended the account of Donald Trump Jr. after a tweet about potential COVID-19 treatment hydroychloroquine. Many lesser known right-of-center pundits have found themselves de-platformed on social media for vague and pretexual terms-of-service violations.
Twitter users weighed in the Twitter execs testimony.
@jack and @Twitter knows exactly what they are doing. They don’t have time to worry about Genocide when “orange man bad” . It’s disgusting and 💯biased. Ultimately I do believe Twitter will go the way of my space, and it’s really sad. I hope they are ashamed but I doubt it.
— Kristy (@kristyyounger) July 29, 2020
Damn, missed an opportunity to ask them which Iranian citizens have access to Twitter? Because they don’t. So there is no public interest of having its citizens see the words from its leader in Iran.
— Sam Barak, Ph.D. (@RealSamBarak) July 29, 2020
Twitter’s justification for keeping up posts by Iran’s leader is that it’s for messaging for its citizens. The very citizens Iran specifically blocks from accessing Twitter. Yes there are VPNs but those are specifically illegal in Iran…
— Sam Barak, Ph.D. (@RealSamBarak) July 29, 2020
Using @MattiFriedman‘s astute new Tablet article & @bariweiss‘s book & searing @nytimes resignation letter as context, this obscene double standard that ignores legit Jewish/Israeli concerns should surprise absolutely no one who’s actually paying attention. #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate
— Dan Matkowsky (@DanMatkowsky) July 29, 2020
No, he is making the assumption that, in spite of their bias toward @khamenei_ir ‘s tweet (and of many other politicians who have “glorified violence”, they only deem it fit to put restrictions on Trump’s tweets (and some supporters); which is a prime example of a double standard
— YOMI (@YomiOyesola) July 29, 2020
This girl is full of baloney…and she knows it….AND WE KNOW IT
— George Anna Miller (@volleycoach0220) July 29, 2020
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