Twitter will not suspend controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for a tweet comparing Jews to insects, the company said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
Farrakhan, who has been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism throughout his career, yesterday tweeted a video clip of a speech in which he denied that he was anti-Semitic, with the caption, “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.”
The tweet appears to violate Twitter’s proposed new policies around “dehumanizing” tweets, defined in a company blog post as “language that treats others as less than human … Examples can include comparing groups to animals and viruses (animalistic), or reducing groups to a tool for some other purpose (mechanistic).”
However, a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the rules have not yet taken effect, so Farrakhan’s language is not in violation of any extant policy. The spokesperson did not give a date for when the new rule would go into effect, or if it would at all. He did not address whether Farrakhan’s tweet would be in violation were the policy in effect.
Twitter has in recent months provoked the fury of conservative users and politicians who say the platform’s ban of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was politically motivated. The company has long struggled to balance its commitment to free expression with the profusion of hateful and false information on its platform.
The company has in the past removed special verified status from users as a way of punishing them for offensive speech, as it did in July when it unverified Farrakhan after the minister tweeted, “Thoroughly and completely unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan.”