On Monday, the same day that former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was born, Twitter — the social media site where intelligence, logic and reason goes to die — began what many called a “purge” of far-right accounts in what it claims is an effort to combat hateful and abusive content, Fox News reported.
According to Fox:
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.
Many conservatives expected to be suspended from the site, but apparently survived the first day of the great purge.
Good luck my dudes 🙃🙃🙃
— Lauren Southern (@Lauren_Southern) December 17, 2017
Right wing twitter awaiting tomorrow’s wrong-think purge pic.twitter.com/LoWA27Nta1
— Cassandra Fairbanks ❤️⏳ (@CassandraRules) December 17, 2017
Really worried about this #TwitterPurge.
If my account gets banned from here, you can reach me at:
J&J Off Licence
For all other times, I can be found roaming Luton High Street, confronting Muslims.
— Tommy Robinson 🇬🇧 (Parody) (@RobinsonParody) December 18, 2017
One person noted:
Twitter's Nazi purge has taken out a number of notable accounts, but there's not much rhyme or reason that I can detect. Lots of explicitly Nazi content remains. https://t.co/UPrml93kP2
— 𝙅.𝙈. 𝘽𝙀𝙍𝙂𝙀𝙍 (@intelwire) December 18, 2017
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.”
Nevertheless, it seems that liberals are still welcome to advocate the murder of President Trump:
By that I have no friends and 3 hours to kill Donald trump would be the biggest win win in history
— Cristian.EXE (@crinBOT) December 19, 2017
In the year 2525 (if man is still alive) we’ll be trying to invent a time machine to send Arnold Schwarzenegger back in time to kill Donald Trump. https://t.co/yxkQtAU3BI
— Shirley Temple Bar (@shirleybar) December 18, 2017
There’s plenty more… All of this, of course, indicates the effort is designed to silence a political point of view the company doesn’t agree with. If the objective was to really eliminate “hate,” after all, would they not deal with these messages as well?
As for Twitter’s rules — as we reported earlier, the site will also be monitoring the off-platform activities of its users:
tomoro twitter implements new rules, which some are calling “the purge”. notably, they’re banning users affiliated w/ orgs that promote violence—both on and offline.
i’m curious about implementation. what counts as promoting violence? will they ban neo-nazis? what about antifa? pic.twitter.com/ihRbPteC7c
— Laci Green (@gogreen18) December 18, 2017
As a result, Fox said, a number of people have migrated to Gab.ai, a social media site that promotes free speech.
Recently, House GOP candidate Paul Nehlen proposed a measure to stop censorship on large social media sites. That’s a good start, but Congress also needs to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and consider rules to regulate Big Social Media like utilities.
Others are also questioning the company’s actions, Mashable reported:
The change is a “slippery slope,” said Susan Benesch, a member of Twitter’s Trust & Safety Council. She serves as executive director of the Dangerous Speech Project and is a faculty associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.
“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 wrote in an email.
“It’s not surprising, of course. 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,” she continued.
Mashable added: “For those users that believe they were wrongfully banned on Monday, Twitter has an online portal for appeals. Twitter also said it’s still working to improve that process.”
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And if you’re as concerned about online censorship as we are, go here and order this book: