By: Lachin Rezaian

Twitter censors messages, but not if you are Trump

February 18, 2019 - 22:14

TEHRAN – Twitter has temporarily banned account of Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, in a politically-motivated move, for posting a message saying “Imam Khomeini’s verdict regarding Salman Rushdie is based on divine verses and just like divine verses, it is solid and irrevocable."

Twitter says it has banned Leader's account according to a policy against violent threats, while it has acknowledged in 5 emails that there has been no violation of TOS. "We have investigated the reported content and could not identify any violations of the Twitter Rules, or applicable law." 

In the tweet that marked the order's anniversary and was flagged by Twitter, Ayatollah Khamenei wrote that the "verdict" on Rushdie was "based on divine verses and just like divine verses, it is solid and irrevocable."

The British Indian novelist and writer Salman Rushdie was sentenced to death by a verdict issued by Imam Khomeini for insulting Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, which was written in 1988 and sparked global protests among Muslims around the world.

Following the move, Managing Director of Mehr News Agency Ali Asgari posted a message on his Twitter account, condemning the politically-motivated move by the micro-blogging service.

He underlined that "Imam Khomeini’s historical fatwa cannot be censored."

The social media giant is accused of taking a selective approach to the treatment of messages. The debate has been fueled by a series of war-mongering statements tweeted by Trump, in which he threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" and Iran with "consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before" in an all-caps tweet.

Twitter has come under fire from Trump critics for not punishing the president for the specific use of the platform. 

Twitter’s policy states that threats of violence can get you kicked off; now our common sense says it SHOULD remove this message because it threatens nuclear annihilation upon an entire country. Yes, it is violating Twitter’s policies, but not if you are Trump. Here’s why:

Twitter treats Trump differently than a “regular” user.

Interestingly, Twitter officials deny this, saying President Trump does not have a "blanket exception" from a possible ban by the social media platform.

Elsewhere, justifying its decision to not delete Trump’s tweets, the company also said that blocking world leaders from Twitter would “hide important information people should be able to see and debate.”

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