The social media giant stated that the Iranian leader's anti-Semitic tweet, which referred to Israel as a “cancerous growth” and called for “genocide” against the Israeli people, passed as “commentary on political issues of the day,” while Trump's tweets “could inspire harm.”
On Wednesday, July 29, During a hearing of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs of the Knesset – Israel's national legislature – regarding antisemitism in social media, human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky questioned Twitter's double standards when it came to tweets by world leaders.
Specifically, Ostrovsky asked Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s public policy head for the Nordics and Israel, why Trump's tweets were flagged, but not those of Khamenei.
“You have recently started flagging the tweets of President Trump,” Ostrovsky asked. “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?”
One of the tweets Ostrovsky was referring to was one made by Trump on June 23 where he declared that there would “never be an 'Autonomous Zone' in Washington, D.C.” in response to such a zone being set up in Seattle. The tweet was given a public interest notice by Twitter with the company saying that it violated their policies.
“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,” read the notice.
Pettersson defended the decision, stating that Trump's tweet could “inspire harm.” Khamenei's tweet, on the other hand, was simply considered to be “saber-rattling.”
In response to Pettersson's explanation Knesset member Michal Cotler-Wunsh asked: “So, calling for genocide is okay, but commenting on politics is not?”
To this, Petterson explained that, if a world leader violated their rules, but there was a “clear interest” in keeping their tweet on the servers, then they would place it behind a notice providing more context, allowing people to click through should they choose to see the tweet.
“And that is what happened for the Trump tweet,” she explained. “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.”
Colter-Wunsh, however, was not impressed by the argument.
“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 … that there is no double standard in the application [of rules],” she said.
Twitter and Trump have been at odds for a while now. This came to a head in May when the company announced that it would be adding “fact check” labels to certain tweets if they were deemed to have made misleading or disputed claims about the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
However, the fact-checking soon turned political with Twitter adding the labels to two of Trump's tweets about mail-in ballots, rebutting their accuracy.
More recently, Twitter has gone after Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., banning his account for 12 hours after he tweeted a video promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine as a cure for the coronavirus.
The seeming bias of Twitter (and other social media companies) against Trump and other conservatives has prompted him to instruct government agencies to look into the protections that these companies currently enjoy.
More recently, the White House has directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked it to require more transparency from social media companies.
Whether or not the petition will result in any meaningful change, however, is still to be seen. Any new rules that the FCC could introduce would still take a year or more to actually finalize.
Learn more about how Twitter and other social media companies are silencing conservative voices over at Censorship.news.