A Twitter official on Wednesday told the Israeli Parliament (The Knesset) that such tweets by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei do not violate the company’s rules against hate speech, and indicated that they are considered mere “foreign policy saber-rattling.”
Asked about Twitter’s statement on the matter, McEnany drew a comparison between the company’s stance toward Iran and the position it has taken toward controversial tweets by US President Donald Trump, some of which have recently received warning labels and other restrictions from the company for violating its rules.
“I thought it was very eye opening and it tells you where these social media companies stand, where they’re not willing to assess the Ayatollah Khomeini’s tweets but they are willing to assess President Trump’s tweets,” McEnany said.
“It’s really appalling and it just speaks to their overwhelming, blinding bias against conservatives and against this president,” she added.
McEnany noted that the administration was seeking to take action, submitting a petition to the Federal Communications Commission “to hold social media companies accountable for their censorship” by making them liable to “civil lawsuits for their own speech, fact checks and de-platforming.”
Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s head policy for the Europe, where Israel falls under many international entities, told the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, via video-conference Wednesday: “We have an approach toward leaders that says 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 of our rules.”
She was responding to a question by pro-Israel activist Arsen Ostrovsky, who had asked why Twitter attached a special label to a recent tweet by Trump noting that it violated the company’s rules, while the Iranian leaders’ many tweets about his wish for Israel to be destroyed are left untouched.
On May 29, Twitter for the first time attached a warning label to Trump’s tweet about the riots that broke out in the US following the killing of George Floyd.
“I just want to fine-tune [Ostrovsky’s] question: Calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on the political situation in certain countries is not okay?” asked MP Michal Cotler-Wunsh, who was leading the discussion.
“If a world leader violates our rules but there 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 wish to see that type of content,” Pettersson replied.
"That’s 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.”
Trump’s May 29 tweet ended with the words: “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
In addition to the warning label, Twitter disabled the public’s ability to “like” the post, but decided not to remove it “so the citizens can see what their political figures are commenting [on] and hold them accountable for it online,” said Pettersson, who spoke to the Knesset meeting via Zoom.
Pettersson did not comment specifically about the incendiary tweets by the Iranian leader.
“Wow. Twitter just admitted that tweets calling for genocide against Jews by Iranian leaders DON’T violate its policy!” Cotler-Wunsh tweeted after the session ended. “This is a double standard. This is anti-Semitism.”
According to Twitter’s rules on terrorism and violent extremism, “there is no place on Twitter for… individuals who affiliate with and promote [terrorist group’s] illicit activities… Our assessments in this context are informed by national and international terrorism designations.”
A spokesperson for Twitter replied by saying these tweets “are not in violation of our policies at this time,” pointing to the company’s policy according to which “foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”