Twitter’s purge of the extreme right accounts sparks backlash, praise and confusion


(REUTERS/dado Ruvic)

Twitter users responded with defiance, praise and impressive as the embattled tech company enforced new rules on incitement to hatred and abuse, permanent suspension of a relatively small number of prominent accounts linked to white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

The rules in effect Monday, expanding the tech firm’s hateful policy to permanently suspend any account that is “violent threats, more insults, profanity, racist or sexist tropes, in growing fear reduces, or someone who is less than a human being.” The policy also focuses on groups or individuals who promote violence on and off the platform.

So far, suspended accounts are white nationalists such as Jared Taylor and his publication American Renaissance, Britain First Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, a European white supremacist group known as Generation Identity, the American Nazi y and the New Black Panther y.


Civil rights groups such as the Islamist Lawyers, who are calling for stronger measures to combat incitement to hatred, applauded the enforcement action.

“As social media sites have become the central organizing hub for America’s hate groups, companies such as Twitter and Facebook have a responsibility to ensure that their platforms are not used to sow seeds of violence and hatred,” the group said in a statement.

Twitter, which is billed as a space for free expression, but also touted its new, stricter security policy, was struck by the banned accounts and their supporters.


American Renaissance, which was verified and had 32,800 followers when it was banned, filed an appeal to Twitter and was told by Twitter that it is permanently banned because it violated “rules against being affiliated with a violent extremist group.”

“We are of the opinion violent extremist groups in organisations—either through their own accounts or the activity, both on and off the platform to use or promote violence against civilians for their causes,” Twitter said of the American Renaissance in a statement.

Nevertheless, prominent neo-Nazis like David Duke and Richard Spencer, along with white nationalist Jason Kessler—the name of the activist who was killed in Charlottesville a “fat, disgusting communist”—all still have active accounts on Twitter.

The treatment has gotten rid of mostly right-wing radical and left-wing people pushing either a racist agendas or violent revolutionary agenda. Not bad Twitter, not bad. I am under the impression. Although I’m confused why Richard Spencer and Tariq Nasheed are not prohibited.

— Johnathan Irwin (@A2ZJIRWINKO) on December 18, 2017

Spencer tweeted on Tuesday that a “second round of purges” was beginning.

Twitter user JM Berger is listed what he sees as a “bias in the direction of the offline organizations” in the Twitter purge and placed in a collage with all sorts of white supremacist or neo-Nazi accounts which have not yet been purged.

So how is that new line against hate symbols? Here are 615 avatars, on the day of today, for users who Sided with 14/88 in October. Red X is a suspended account. In short, I am underwhelmed.

— J. M. Berger (@intelwire) on December 18, 2017

Gab, a social network that calls itself the champion of “free speech” and has 345,000 members, remains a space where white nationalists not be prohibited.

“The integration of Britain First on our platform has helped enormously, in addition to Twitter, the limitations of” Utsav Sanduja, Gab’s chief operating officer, told Fox News.

Christopher Carbone is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.

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