On Friday, a Twitter account linked to by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had a message for former President Trump. The posted tweet was of a photograph of a golfer resembling Trump, wearing a red shirt and an ominous approaching shadow from above. According to a translation by Reuters, the text accompanying the photo read, “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.”
In perhaps an attempt to ‘save face’ after banishing Trump from Twitter just days before the end of his presidency, Twitter suspended the Ayatollah’s account. Before accolades start flying for Twitter’s bravery and taking a stand for morality, it must be noted that the organization had received immense pressure to suspend the Supreme Leader long before Friday’s tweet.
Would Khamenei have experienced the same treatment had Twitter not risked looking severely biased and hypocritical for just having suspended President Trump if they didn’t? We have a pretty good idea. “Requests to ban Khamenei from Twitter for posts that called for the eradication of Israel were rejected by Jack Dorsey last year” reports Mediate. His reasoning? Because he believed world leaders should be heard.
“We believe it’s important for everyone to hear from global leaders, and we have policies around world leaders,” said Dorsey. “We want to make sure we are respecting their right to speak and to publish what they need.” Fast forward to January of 2021 and suddenly Dorsey’s moral compass had changed.
Some confusion, however, still stands surrounding Khamenei being silenced at all. The Twitter account suspended was @Khemeinei_site. Washington Post foreign affairs reporter Adam Taylor followed the incident and posted a string of updates on the matter. “Uncertain to me whether this account was actually run by the Supreme Leader but it was linked to by his official accounts” he tweeted. “Still not clear to what extent @khamenei_site was official, but worth noting the image on Khamenei’s English language homepage right now” another tweet read. The English site still had up the very same image with the text “REVENGE IS DEFINITE.”
Some users suggested Twitter only suspended the account because it was a fake account. Taylor tweeted to clarify, saying, “Looks like Twitter says @khamenei_site was not official, though it appears to have had some official backing from Khamenei’s main accounts.”
So, in summary, did Twitter even suspend the Ayatollah at all? The Supreme Leader’s official account @Khamenei_ir is still alive and well.
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