Twitter begins purge of far-right accounts as new hate speech rules take effect
Twitter began enforcing new rules to combat hateful and abusive content Monday and a number of well-known far-right organizations and users were suspended.
The changes announced last month broaden Twitter’s “hateful conduct policy” to permanently suspend any account—covering usernames, profile bios and display names—that displays “violent threats, multiple slurs, epithets, racist or sexist tropes, incites fear or reduces someone to less than human.”
The tech giant is developing unspecified “internal tools” to help identify accounts in violation in order to supplement reports from users.
Hate imagery will now fall under the rubric of Twitter’s “sensitive media policy,” and that will include any “logos, symbols, or images whose purpose is to promote hostility and malice against others based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.”
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Presumably that would include the well-documented, countless accounts bearing Nazi flags, swastikas and similar symbols.
A number of prominent far-right accounts, including the white nationalist American Renaissance and its founder Jared Taylor, the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party and white nationalist group Vanguard America were suspended on Monday. James Fields Jr. was seen holding a shield from Vanguard America before allegedly killing Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in August. League of the South’s Hunter Wallace, Britain First’s main account, as well as its leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen—whose anti-Muslim videos were retweeted by President Donald Trump—were also suspended.
In addition, the micro-blogging platform’s rules on violence and physical harm will be broadened to cover “accounts that affiliate with organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes” and groups that fall under this category will be those that “identify as such or engage in activity—both on and off the platform.”
Although some users documented the suspended accounts using #TwitterPurge, others pointed out that many accounts bearing Nazi signifiers remained on the site.
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Twitter, which began de-verifying a range of white nationalist and far-right groups recently, is now banning many of these same accounts from the platform altogether in response to growing outrage about the type of speech it permits and the accounts that receive its blue check of verification.
Although the platform has long been criticized for harboring hateful rhetoric, after the deadly incident in Charlottesville, users outed white nationalists on Twitter by posting photos of the people who marched with tiki torches on the University of Virginia campus while chanting anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi slogans.
Some far-right groups and users have fled to Gab, a small social media platform that's seen by many as a safe space for white nationalists.