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Twitter launches massive purge against far-right accounts

WASHINGTON, December 18, 2017 — Twitter has begun a massive purge of accounts that went against their “hateful conduct policy.” The social media company announced their changes last month saying they would permanently suspend any account 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.”

Twitter has developed undisclosed “internal tools” to identify accounts in violation. Twitter announced that hate imagery will fall under the Twitter’s  “sensitive media policy,”  which 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.” Some conservatives shared their concern that they may also be a victim of the purge, for allegedly violating their rules.

Several prominent far-right accounts have been suspended including white nationalist group American Renaissance and its founder Jared Taylor, neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party and the white nationalist group Vanguard America.  Twitter also expended their rules on violence covering “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.”

They originally started its crack down on far-right Twitter accounts following the deadly Charlottesville protest. Far-right groups have moved to social media platform Gab, which is a platform that has been used by white nationalist.

The social media giant announced in November that starting Dec. 18, they would consider account user behavior “on and off the platform” when deciding whether to close down an account, as part of an effort to “reduce hateful and abusive content.” Susan Benesch, a member of Twitter’s Trust & Safety Council spoke to Mashable on Monday saying that Twitter’s new rules could be a “slippery slope.”

“If Twitter starts banning people who are affiliated with organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further a cause, that’s tantamount to prohibiting certain opinions: a very new policy for a platform that used to be known as the ‘free speech wing of the free speech party,’” Benesch said. “If you’re going to ban any kind of opinion, this is a logical place to start. Twitter staff may find themselves struggling to distinguish among guerrillas, terrorists, revolutionaries, and dissidents.”

The purge was not as widespread as many expected. Many prominent white nationalist Twitter accounts are still active including Richard Spencer, David Duke, Jason Kessler and Evan McLaren. Twitter did acknowledge that enforcing the new rules is going to a big messy task.

 

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