Last Friday, Twitter permanently suspended President Trump’s Twitter account and banned him from ever again using the platform.
In an explanation of its decision, Twitter said that it took the action because of the president’s potential to “incite violence.” Yet, both tweets cited by Twitter are quite innocuous, one of which is as follows:
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
If Twitter will ban the sitting president of the United States for that tweet, one must ask why they will not bar truly dangerous accounts. Here are just five accounts that are from people or organizations that repeatedly “incite violence” both on and off social media.
1. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (“Supreme Leader” of Iran)
To date, the self-described “Supreme Leader” of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is still permitted to have a Twitter account that he regularly uses.
Just three days ago, the Ayatollah took to Twitter to sing the praises of Quasem Soleimani, the Iranian military general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and commander of its Quds Force, who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and who the American military killed last year.
“I thank God & the dear people of our country for their epic movement in commemorating the anniversary of the martyrdoms of dear #Soleimani,” the Ayatollah wrote.
Is this tweet an incitement to violence and revenge? Not according to Twitter, which has neither censored the post nor suspended the Ayatollah’s account.
A tweet by the Ayatollah on December 16 is even more explicit in its incitement to violence. “Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried this out should be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time,” he wrote.
Again, Twitter has not censored the post, which has almost 6,000 likes and over 1,000 retweets.
A third example, from June 3, 2018, is an anti-Semitic post from the Iranian leader calling for the “eradication” of Israel.
“Our stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken. #Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen,” he wrote.
The tweet has over 10,000 likes and nearly 4,000 retweets.
2. Chinese Embassy in the United States
The Chinese Embassy in the United States recently posted a tweet which touted the success of the Chinese internment of the Uyghur people, saying they’ve helped women no longer become “baby-making machines.”
“Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uygur [sic] women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines. They are more confident and independent,” it wrote.
According to Fox News, “A Twitter spokesperson reportedly told various outlets, ‘This Tweet is not in violation of our policies.’ However, [after several days] the tweet was no longer visible and had been replaced by a message: ‘This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules.’”
China currently holds hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps.
Yet, the Embassy has not been banned from the platform.
3. Venezuelan Dictator Nicolas Maduro
Nicolas Maduro, the dictator of Venezuela, currently has almost 4 million followers on Twitter, which he regularly posts to several times per day.
Twitter has even granted Maduro the sought-after “blue checkmark,” which Twitter grants to “verified” users.
Yet, a recent investigation by the U.N. Human Rights Counsel “implicated President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and other high-ranking officials in systematic human rights abuses amounting to crimes against humanity — including killings, torture and sexual violence,” according to The New York Times.
Apparently, this is not enough to get one banned on Twitter.
4. Louis Farrakhan
Farrakhan is the leader of the National of Islam and has repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks.
Among numerous other anti-Semitic comments, Farrakhan has said, “The powerful Jews are my enemy,” “Let me tell you something, when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door,” and “White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan …has pulled the cover off the eyes of that Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”
And yet, Farrakhan frequently uses Twitter and has nearly 350,000 followers.
5. Richard B. Spencer
Known anti-Semite and white supremacist Richard Spencer has 75,000 followers on Twitter. He, according to the Anti-Defamation League, “wants to establish a white ethno-state in the U.S. and believes that whites should live separately from non-whites and Jews.”
Twitter’s decision to suspend President Trump while permitting all five of these individuals or organizations to retain their accounts brings its official reasoning for banning the president into question.
Following Twitter’s decision last Friday, Axios reported Jonathan Swan said, “Banning him for two of his least offensive posts ever… ok. Probably better for Twitter to just be honest about why it made the decision.”
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Photo from STEPHEN LAM/REUTERS