On Friday, reports surfaced that Twitter had appeared to suspend an account belonging to Iran’s vehemently anti-Israel supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But @khamenei_site wasn’t the authoritarian leader’s real account.
The reason for the suspension was that the account had tweeted a photo calling for “revenge” against former President Donald Trump. Along with a photo showing Trump golfing beneath the shadow of a military airplane, the tweet read “Revenge is inevitable. Soleimani’s killer and the man who gave the orders must face vengeance.”
As president, Trump ordered the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the senior Iranian general who commanded a force that had supported terrorist groups across the Middle East.
But Twitter said it suspended the account because it was fake, Reuters reported. Khamenei’s main account, with more than 880,000 followers, was still active.
Twitter told The Associated Press that it had suspended the fake account for violating the platform’s “abusive behavior policy” as well as its “manipulation and spam policy.”
Officials in Israel and the United States have drawn attention to Khamenei’s active account as debates over moderation on Twitter have escalated, and particularly as the platform has restricted and then suspended Trump’s account for inciting violence.
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At a hearing last year in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, an Israeli activist asked why a Khamenei tweet calling for Israel’s elimination was allowed, given that a label had been appended to tweets by Trump. A Twitter official responded that “foreign policy saber-rattling on military and economic issues are generally not in violation of Twitter rules.”
Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s press secretary, said the statement spoke to Twitter’s “overwhelming, blinding bias against conservatives and against this president.”