Twitter said Monday that it had suspended an account purporting to belong to Iran’s supreme leader after it tweeted an image depicting former President Trump under the ominous shadow of a stealth bomber.
A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the account was suspended permanently due to violations of both the site’s content policies as well as policies governing “the creation of fake accounts.” It wasn’t clear how Twitter officials had determined the authenticity of the account.
“The Tweet referenced is in violation of our abusive behaviour policy, and the account you referenced (khamenei_site) violated our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts, and has been permanently suspended,” read the statement.
The tweet from the account posted last Thursday contained text quoting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from December, when Iran’s supreme leader issued a veiled threat vowing retribution for the death of Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general who was killed by U.S. forces in Iraq last year. Thee same image was shared by an English-language site owned by Iran’s government.
“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,” read a statement quoted in the image.
The posting of the image came as Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, has called for dialogue with the Biden administration and a return to the 2015 nuclear accord struck under the Obama administration, which the U.S. exited in 2017 under Trump.
The @Khamenei_site account had 8,000 followers while another Twitter account linked to the supreme leader, 2Khamenei_ir, has 880,000 followers and remains active, according to Atlantic Council IranSource Editor Holly Dagres.
Twitter has come under fire for not suspending the ayatollah’s account after he shared threatening or violent messages in the same way that it has removed posts or accounts belonging to American politicians — including Trump — for making claims about fraud in the November 2020 presidential election.
Khamenei has tweeted threats of “revenge” against the U.S. from his @Khamenei_ir account in response to the U.S. military killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.
The ayatollah also has several tweets on his profile that call for the “elimination” of Israel, or “Zionist regime.” In a May 21 tweet, he wrote: “The only remedy until the removal of the Zionist regime is firm, armed resistance.”
Twitter has previously said that when political leaders’ tweets are about “comments on political issues of the day” or “foreign policy saber-rattling on military and economic issues,” they are “generally not in violation of our Twitter rules.”
The social media site updated its Civic Integrity Policy ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election “to more comprehensively enforce labeling or removing of false and misleading information.”
The company permanently suspended then-President Trump due to “the risk of further incitement of violence” after he posted a video to his Twitter page repeating the claim that the 2020 election was stolen following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, although his statement urged peace and condemned the storming of the Capitol, demanding that those in Washington return home