June 16, 2020

How Iran Became the New Battle Line Between Conservatives and Twitter

By Peter Harrell and Elizabeth Goitein

In the latest salvo in the conservative war against Twitter, Senator Ted Cruz is calling for a criminal investigation into the social media platform for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Cruz does not argue that Twitter sold prohibited goods to Iran or somehow helped the Iranian government gain access to the international financial system. Nor does he contend that Twitter has hosted content promoting terrorism. Rather, the Texas Republican argues that Twitter is violating U.S. sanctions merely by allowing sanctioned Iranian officials, including Iran’s foreign minister, Javid Zarif, to maintain and use free accounts on its platform.

Twitter’s crime, it seems, is letting them speak.

Cruz’s letter urging Attorney General William Barr and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to open a probe is, of course, part of a larger effort by conservatives to punish the private company for its alleged ideological slant. The letter came on the same day that Twitter placed a warning label on President Donald Trump’s now-infamous “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” tweet, cautioning viewers that the post glorified violence. The previous day, the president had issued an executive order aimed at making it easier to sue social media platforms, ostensibly in response to Twitter having fact-checked the president’s tweets claiming that mail-in voting increased the chance of voter fraud.

Read the full article in POLITICO Magazine.

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