Twitter's Rules Don't Block Ayatollah From Calling Israel 'Cancerous Tumor'

Dorsey says Twitter’s rules allow world leaders like Iran’s supreme leader to post anti-Semitic comments

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday said Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s anti-Semitic tweets — including calling Israel a “cancerous tumor” — don’t violate the company’s rules. Testifying virtually before a U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee, Dorsey said Khamenei’s tweets qualified as “saber-rattling,” and since they weren’t directed at his own citizens, were allowed under Twitter’s handling of world leaders.

“We believe it’s important for everyone to hear from global leaders, and we have policies around world leaders,” Dorsey said. “We want to make sure we are respecting their right to speak and to publish what they need.”

Dorsey added that if world leaders violate the company’s rules, Twitter will add a warning label to individual tweets — as they have done on several occasions with President Donald Trump.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) jumped in and said Khamenei’s anti-Semitic tweets aren’t accompanied by a warning label. Dorsey said that’s because he wasn’t threatening his own people; if he had, Twitter would have labeled it. “Speech against our own people, or our country’s own citizens, we believe is different and can cause more immediate harm,” Dorsey added.

Twitter’s critics have often pointed out the company takes action against Trump for violating the company’s rules, but sits back while Khamenei bashes Jews and Israel. Khamenei has, on multiple occasions, referred to Israel as “cancerous,” and has at other times said it is an “evil, wolf-like entity.” Earlier this year, he referred to Israel as a “deadly, cancerous growth and a detriment to this region. It will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed.”

His comments appear to violate Twitter’s “hateful conduct policy,” which bars users from threatening people with violence, among other rules.

“We are committed to combating abuse motivated by hatred, prejudice or intolerance,” Twitter’s policy says.

You can watch more of Dorsey’s testimony, along with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, by clicking here.

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