Twitter banned Trump, now it needs to ban Khamenei

Where do they draw the line, and at what point will someone’s account now be suspended?

SOCIAL MEDIA GIANT Twitter (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The decision by Twitter to ban US President Donald Trump’s account is either wrong or overdue, depending on your political standing.
People on the Right were angered by the move, which they saw as political policing by so-called left-wing democratic Silicon Valley executives. They claim that the ban was politically motivated and was therefore unjust.
On the Democratic side, calls for Trump’s account to be suspended have been heard for years, ever since the outgoing president began using Twitter as the primary conduit to transmit all his messages to the general public.
“These steps were necessary, even if they were rooted not in transparent rules but rather in panicked reaction to a crisis,” The Washington Post editorial board wrote after Twitter and Facebook suspended the president’s accounts.
Social media companies are not the government. They are not bound by the same rules, and for years the platforms have allowed Trump to post even when what he wrote violated their own rules.
He posted anti-Muslim videos, appeared to encourage violence against Black Lives Matter protesters, and, in the aftermath of the November presidential election, spread falsehoods about fraud culminating in the violent breach of the US Capitol on Wednesday.
The debate about Twitter and Facebook’s decision will continue to roil the media and US politics in the days to come and at least until Inauguration Day on January 20, after which the companies may reactivate the accounts of Trump, who will then be a former president.
The issue that arises from the decision to ban Trump is, why does Twitter still allow violent figures like Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to remain active on the platform?
While Twitter took down a tweet by Khamenei on Saturday after he cast doubt about the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines, calling them “completely untrustworthy,” it still allows him to tweet antisemitism and calls for violence against Israel.
In one tweet last year, Khamenei urged “Jihad” against Israel. “Everyone must help the Palestinian fighters,” he wrote, adding that “the struggle to free Palestine is Jihad in the way of God. Victory in a struggle has been guaranteed because a person, even if killed, will receive ‘one of the two excellent things.’”
This is a reference to religious rewards for being killed fighting nonbelievers. He also wrote that the “Zionist regime is a deadly cancerous growth,” and that it must be “uprooted and destroyed.”
When confronted in July during a Knesset hearing on allowing Khamenei’s account to remain active, a Twitter executive said that his comments do not violate hate-speech rules, since they are considered “foreign policy saber-rattling.”
Twitter’s Vice President of Public Policy Sinéad McSweeney went further, writing to Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen that Khamenei’s hateful tweets did not violate their policies.
“World leaders use Twitter to engage in discourse with each other, as well as their constituents,” McSweeney wrote in a June 15 letter.
While the comments were ridiculous, they exposed a bias that has to be dealt with. If Trump’s account is suspended because of concern that he will encourage violence, then the same needs to happen to Khamenei’s account, especially considering that he is the leader of a country that is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and continues to pursue a nuclear capability at a time that he openly threatens genocide of another country – Israel.
Where do they draw the line, and at what point will someone’s account now be suspended? All that remains unclear. The fact that Trump is suspended but Khamenei can still tweet genocide says much about the need for clarity.
Trump’s account might have needed to be suspended, especially in light of how he encouraged the violent mob last week in Washington. But Twitter and Facebook need to keep going and take immediate action against Khamenei’s account. Allowing it to remain active is a stain on the social media companies and their so-called rules and policies.
Delete Khamenei’s account now.