OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer that specializes in the Arab-Israeli conflict. He has researched and written extensively on the topics of international law and human rights.
This week the Knesset (Israel’s lawmaking body) hearing about the rise in Anti-semitism on social media was held. The Knesset invited Twitter Head of Policy for the Nordics & Israel, Ylwa Pettersson, to explain why Twitter censors Donal Trump but not Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader.
If you didn’t know Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei’s Twitter account is responsible for the following:
1. “Today more than ever, the interest of the Islamic Nation lies in #unity, the type of unity that creates power against enemies and shouts out loudly at the embodied #Satan, the encroaching US, and its chained dog, the #Zionist regime, and stands up against aggression.”
2. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will never forget the martyrdom of Hajj Qasem Soleimani and will definitely strike a reciprocal blow to the US.”
3. “Iran realized Palestinian fighters’ only problem was lack of access to weapons. With divine guidance & assistance, we planned & the balance of power has been transformed in #Palestine, and today Gaza can stand against the aggression of the Zionist enemy and defeat it.”
In these three tweets alone, he is calling Isreal the chained dog of Satan (the US), threatened an attack against the US, and admitted to providing weapons to terrorists in the Gaza strip.
What was Pettersson’s explanation for censoring Trump and not Sayyid Ali Khamenei?
“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 dealing with military and economic issues are generally not in violation of our Twitter rules.”
The answer dodges the apparent double standard present in Twitter’s policies and actions. Michal Cotler-Wunsh asks for clarification from Petterson saying, “calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on the political situations in certain countries is not okay?”
Pettersson chose not the answer the direct question about the double standard but instead defended Twitter’s reasoning for silencing President Trump. Pettersson explains that Twitter was worried that Trump’s tweet would incite violence and therefore needed the notice placed on the tweet to limit exposure to the tweet.
There was no answer on why a President calling for law and order is crossing the line, but Twitter has no issue with the Supreme Leader of Iran calling for the death of the Jewish people.
We know that the double standard exists. We need to strip these companies of their protection under Sec 230. If a company can silence the President of the United States, they are no longer a neutral platform, and now function as a publisher.
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