DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Twitter said on Friday that it had banned its so-called “fake” account, which is believed to be linked to Iran’s supreme leader’s office, shortly after a post that threatened former President Donald Trump.
In an image posted late Thursday by an account linked to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Trump is shown playing golf in the shadow of a giant drone, with the words “Revenge is Safe” written in Farsi.
In response to a request for comment from an Associated Press, a Twitter spokesman said the tweet had violated the company̵
In a later statement, he said Twitter found the account to be “fake”, without specifying how it came to the conclusion.
The suspended @khamenei_site account links Khamenei’s own website and often publishes excerpts from his speeches and other official content.
Other accounts believed to be linked to Khamenei’s office, which did not post a tweet of the golf drone, including its main account in English, remain active. The photo was also prominently displayed on the supreme leader’s website.
Earlier this month, Facebook and Twitter cut Trump off their platforms for alleged incitement to attack the US Capitol, an unprecedented move that highlighted the huge power of technology giants in regulating the speech of their platforms. Activists soon called on companies to apply their policies equally to political figures around the world to combat hate speech and violence-promoting content.
The warning in the caption refers to Khamenei’s remarks last month before the first anniversary of the US drone strike that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guards General Kasem Soleimani in Baghdad. In his speech, Khamenei did not call Trump by name, but repeated a vow of revenge against those who commanded and carried out the attack on Soleimani.
“Revenge will certainly happen at the right time,” Khamenei had said.
Iran blocks social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter and censors others. While senior officials have unrestricted access to social media, Iran’s young and innovative citizens use proxy servers or other solutions to circumvent control.
Shortly after Trump’s ban on Twitter sparked calls for tweets from other political leaders, the company removed a post from a different Khamenei-related account that pushed the conspiracy theory for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Khamenei, who has the final say on all state issues in Iran, says the virus vaccines imported from the United States or Britain are “completely unreliable.”