Twitter has hidden a post from Iran’s Supreme Leader after he promoted a coronavirus vaccine conspiracy theory, claiming his country could not trust British and American jabs.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed vaccines imported from the UK and the US were ‘completely untrustworthy’ because it was ‘not unlikely’ the countries ‘would want to contaminate other nations’.
The Supreme Leader, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, announced he was banning importing American and British vaccines on Friday.
He has also claimed French coronavirus vaccines ‘aren’t trustworthy’ but has given the go-ahead to buy vaccines from ‘other safe places’. Iran has started the human testing phase for its own vaccination programme and officials expect to be able to distribute the jab in the spring.
The country’s capital, Tehran, has seen the worst outbreak of the disease in the Middle East with 1.2 million infections and over 56,000 deaths. Twitter’s decision to hide Khamenei’s tweet came just before Donald Trump was banned from the platform ‘due to the risk of further incitement of violence’.
Referring to Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, the tech giant said: ‘In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action.
‘Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open. ‘However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things.’
President Trump has used his POTUS account to respond claiming: ‘Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform and YOU, the 75,000,000 great…patriots who voted for me.’
His tweets were deleted shortly after they were posted.
Twitter’s actions have sparked a debate about alleged ‘double standards’ when it comes to world leaders.
In May, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pal questioned why the Supreme Leader’s tweets against Israel did not ‘violate “Twitter Rules about glorifying violence”.’
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) May 29, 2020
Twitter bosses responded to the debate, telling Voice of America it has taken action against world leaders before Friday. A spokesperson added that recent actions were focused on the ‘harm presented by [Trump’s personal] account specifically’.