Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over Trump ‘drone threat’

Lizzie Edmonds
·2 min read
<p>The image tweeted by the office of Iran’s supreme leader</p> (Twitter)

The image tweeted by the office of Iran’s supreme leader

(Twitter)

Twitter has permanently banned an account connected to the office of Iran’s supreme leader after a photo was posted showing Donald Trump playing golf in the shadow of a giant drone.

A Twitter spokesman said that the tweet violated the company’s “abusive behaviour policy” and its “manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts”.

Other accounts thought to be tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office remained active.

Earlier this month, Facebook and Twitter cut off Mr Trump from their platforms for allegedly inciting the assault on the US Capitol, an unprecedented step that underscored the immense power of tech giants in regulating speech on their platforms.

Trump as he left the White House on WednesdayAFP via Getty Images
Trump as he left the White House on WednesdayAFP via Getty Images

Activists soon urged the companies to apply their policies equally to political figures worldwide in order to combat hate speech and content that encourages violence.

The image, posted late on Thursday by the account linked to Mr Khamenei, appeared to call for an attack on Mr Trump, with the caption “revenge is certain” written in Farsi.

The warning referenced Mr Khamenei’s remarks last month ahead of the first anniversary of the US drone strike that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

In his speech, Mr Khamenei did not call out Mr Trump by name but reiterated a vow for vengeance against those who ordered and executed the attack on Mr Soleimani.

“Revenge will certainly happen at the right time,” Mr Khamenei declared.

Iran blocks social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, and censors others.

While top officials have unfettered access to social media, Iran’s youth and tech-savvy citizens use proxy servers or other workarounds to bypass the controls.

Soon after Mr Trump’s ban from Twitter ignited calls to target tweets from other political leaders, the company took down a post by a different Khamenei-linked account that pushed a Covid-19 vaccine conspiracy theory.

Mr Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, had claimed that virus vaccines imported from the US or Britain were “completely untrustworthy”.

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