In a sweeping crackdown on hate speech, Twitter suspended dozens of accounts linked to the alt-right movement. One of the most notable suspended users is a well-known American nationalist who owns an alternative right think tank: Richard Spencer.
The alt-right movement emerged as an alternative to mainstream conservatism. It had its debut on social media where its representatives touted white nationalist views. Spencer once said America would be better off without Blacks, Latinos, Jews, and Hispanics.
Spencer and Dozens More Lost their Twitter Accounts
On Tuesday, the microblogging site suspended several of Spencer’s accounts including those of his magazine (@radixjournal) and think thank (@npiamerica).
Spencer called the move “corporate Stalinism” in a recent interview. He also suggested in a YouTube video that Twitter actively seeks to cleanse the platform of alt-right views. He noted that while he is “alive physically,” alt-right people are being purged “digitally” by execution squads.
“There is a great purge going on and they are purging people based on their views,”
Twitter explained that it will suspend accounts that abuse and harass other users. But the site declined to provide context to the recent suspensions. Other prominent alt-right members lost their accounts including John Rivers, Pax Dickinson, Paul Town, and Ricky Vaughn.
The Alt-right endorsed Trump and Twitter was their platform of choice. The real estate billionaire also used the site to keep in touch with his supporters. But alt-right members’ extreme views offended many Twitter users while they cited free speech.
“The rather naive days of ‘let free speech roam no matter what’ are kind of over,”
commented the founder of Family Online Safety Institute, Stephen Balkam.
Balkam’s organization is a member of Twitter’s trust and safety council.
This week, Twitter will release a new feature that will allow users to “mute” trolls, phrases, keywords, and even entire conversations. The feature will make alerts about racial insults and hurtful comments unnecessary. Twitter users are already able to remove unwanted tweets from their timeline.
In a recent blog post, the tech firm explained that “abusive conduct” silences all perspective on a particular issue. Also, in some cases, such behavior is a threat to “human dignity” which the company vowed to protect.
Nevertheless, “muting” hashtags and conversations from notifications will not remove them from timeline and search results. Twitter, on the other hand, is confident the move would help reduce “negativity.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which asked Twitter to ban about 100 accounts of white nationalists, commented on the developments. SPLC thinks many of these accounts violated the micro-blogging site’s terms of service. The organization hopes that Twitter now sticks to its promises and suspends the accounts of “well-known white supremacists” in violation of terms of service.
It is not the first time the platform suspends alt-right accounts. But never before has it banned so many at once. In July, Twitter banned the account of a Breitbart News contributor Milo Yiannopoulos. The writer reportedly engaged in a campaign to spam comedian Leslie Jones with sexist and racist remarks. Spencer acknowledged that Milo’s actions qualify as harassment. But he added that he and the rest of people banned recently “weren’t even trolling.”
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