Twitter defended its decision to flag President Trump’s tweet about violent demonstrations but not Iran’s calls for violence against Israel, suggesting to Israeli’s legislature on Wednesday that the latter fell under its protections for “commentary on political issues of the day.”
The exchange occurred during a Knesset hearing on antisemitism in social media. Human rights attorney Arsen Ostrovsky asked Twitter’s Ylwa Pettersson: “You have recently started flagging the tweets of President Trump. Why have you not flagged the tweets of Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini, who has literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people?”
Pettersson responded: “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 sabre-rattling on military, economic issues are generally not in violation –”
At that point, Knesset member Michal Cotler-Wunsh interjected and challenged Pettersson.
“So, calling for genocide is okay, but commenting on politics is not?” she asked.
Pettersson responded by suggesting that Trump risked provoking violence, an apparent reference to his post about ongoing riots surrounding George Floyd’s death. She added that Twitter didn’t completely remove the post because it wanted to ensure “citizens can see what their political figures are commenting and hold them accountable for what they are saying online.”
Cotler-Wunsh responded: “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.”
Wednesday’s meeting came as Twitter faced intense pushback in the United States for suspending the account of Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, after he tweeted a video promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus. That was just the latest incident to provoke conservative accusations that the social media giant harbored bias towards conservatives.
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