Hate groups, extremists, alt-right, Twitter

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Hate groupsTwitter suspends accounts of alt-right individuals, organizations

Published 17 November 2016

Twitter has suspended the accounts of several individuals and groups linked to the alt-right. The alt-right movement embraces white supremacists, anti-Semites, and all manner of bigots in addition to conspiracy theorists and more “traditional” rabble-rousing populists and extremists. Steve Bannon, the publisher of the alt-right’s main organ, the Breitbart News Web site, was Trump campaign CEO, and is slated to become the strategic counselor to the Trump in the White House. Twitter said that company rules prohibit “violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.” “The great purge is upon us. But Twitter could have purged the #AltRight BEFORE we memed a President into the White House. They didn’t because they never believed it was possible,” Pax Dickinson, founder of alt-right site WeSearchr; wrote. “Banning us now is too little & too late.”

Twitter has suspended the accounts of several individuals and groups linked to the alt-right. The alt-right movement embraces white supremacists, racists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and all manner of bigots in addition to conspiracy theorists, misogynists and more “traditional” rabble-rousing populists and right-wing extremists. Various elements of the movement were vocal supporters of Donald Trump. Steve Bannon, the publisher of the alt-right’s main organ, the Breitbart News Web site, was Trump campaign’s CEO. Bannon is slated to be the president’s strategic adviser after Trump takes office.

The Trump campaign invigorated the alt-right and gave it a new platform. Last month the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a report which detailed a troubling, year-long rise in anti-Semitic hate targeting journalists on Twitter, with data showing that the harassment has been driven by rhetoric in the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. The anti-Semitic tweets have been directed at 800 journalists, both conservative and liberal, who wrote critically about Trump. The tweet writers were disproportionately likely to self-identify as Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, or part of the “alt-right.” There were 19,253 anti-Semitic tweets in the first six months of 2016, and the words that appear most frequently in the bios of the 1,600 most prolific anti-Semitic Twitter attackers are “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative,” and “white” (see “Widespread anti-Semitic harassment of journalists perceived as critical of Donald Trump: Report,” HSNW, 19 October 2016)

USA Todayreports that on Tuesday, San Francisco-based Twitter announced the suspension of several alt-right accounts, saying that company rules prohibit “violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.” Twitter already prohibits hate speech based on race, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

Twitter’s head of safety, Del Harvey, told USA Today that Twitter is drawing a hard line between free speech and “behavior that is intended to silence others.”

In February the company suspended more than 125,000 accounts, most of them linked to ISIS.

Social media has been searching for the right balance between free expression and blocking cyber-bullying and hate mongering.

Twitter has been criticized for dragging its feet on removing offensive accounts, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization tracking hate groups and extremist organizations, had asked Twitter to remove more than 100 accounts of white supremacists.

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