DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Twitter said on Friday that it has permanently banned what it called a “fake” account believed to be linked to the office of Iran’s supreme leader, a post soon The latter which used to threaten former President Donald Trump.
In an image posted late Thursday night from an account linked to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Trump is shown playing golf in the shadow of a giant drone, with the caption “Sure to get revenge” written in Persian.
In response to a request from the Associated Press for a comment, a Twitter spokesperson said the tweet violated the company’s “abusive behavior policy” and that the account violated its “manipulation and spam policy”.
In a later statement, he said that Twitter had determined it was “fake”, without explaining how it came to conclusion.
The suspended account, @khamenei_site, was linked to Khamenei’s own website and often posted excerpts from his speeches and other official material.
Other accounts tied to Khamenei’s office are said to have not tweeted a golf-drone photo, including his main English-language account. The photo was also prominently featured on the Supreme Leader’s website.
Earlier this month, Facebook and Twitter cut Trump off their platforms to provoke an attack on the US Capitol, an unprecedented move that underscored the immense power of tech giants in regulating speech on their platforms. Activists soon appealed to companies to apply their policies equally to political celebrities to counter violence and hate-spreading material that promotes violence.
The warning in the caption referred to Khamenei’s remarks ahead of the first anniversary of the US drone strike last month that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qasim Solimani in Baghdad. In his speech, Khamenei did not call Trump by name, but reiterated his vengeance against those who ordered and carried out an attack on Solimani.
“Revenge will surely happen at the right time,” Khamenei declared.
Iran blocks social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, and censors others. While top officials have not accessed social media, Iran’s young and tech-savvy citizens use proxy servers or other workarounds to circumvent civil controls.
Soon after Trump lifted the ban from Twitter, igniting calls to target other political leaders’ tweets, the company took down a post by a separate Khamenei-linked account that defied a COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theory pushed off.
Khamenei, who has the final say on all state affairs in Iran, claimed that the virus vaccines imported from the US or Britain were “completely untrustworthy”.