Twitter Just Cracked Down on Hate Speech Users

November 16th 2016

Laura Donovan

Following Twitter's announcement on Tuesday that it will crack down on hate speech, the social media platform has "suspended a number of accounts associated with the alt-right movement," USA Today reported Wednesday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center told USA Today that it contacted Twitter to remove hundreds of white supremacist accounts, as these accounts don't follow Twitter's standards for conduct on the social platform. Twitter told the news site in a statement that the platform forbids "targeted abuse and harassment, and we will suspend accounts that violate this policy."

As USA Today noted, Twitter has suspended alt-right users before but this is the first time it has ever suspended this many at a time. Twitter famously permanently suspended Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos during summer 2016 after he started a harassment campaign against "Ghostbusters" actress Leslie Jones. This came several months after Twitter unverified Yiannopoulos for violating the site's rules.

Twitter wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that it will step up its efforts to prevent users from experiencing abuse on the platform. It currently allows users to block and "mute" harassers, and it plans to improve the mute function so that users can mute "keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations [they] don’t want to see notifications about," the blog post states.

“There’s a fine line between free expression and abuse, and this launch is another step on the path toward getting rid of abuse,” Del Harvey, vice president of trust and security at Twitter, told The New York Times in a piece published on Tuesday. “We’ve been launching new products to address this, and the cadence of product releases is picking up. We have a lot planned on this path.”

It's no secret that Twitter's had an issue with abusive users for a long time, but the presidential election has created a possible increase in online harassment. Some of alleged supporters of President-elect Donald Trump have received attention for expressing anti-Semitic views on Twitter. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently found 2.6 million anti-Semitic Twitter posts shared on the platform between August 2015 to July 2016, The New York Times reported in October.

"The words appearing most frequently in the Twitter biographies of the attackers were 'Trump,' 'nationalist,' 'conservative' and 'white,'" wrote New York Times reporter Jonathan Mahler. "Many of the owners of the 1,600 Twitter accounts were anonymous, though at least two are prominent white supremacists: Andrew Anglin, the founder of the website The Daily Stormer, and Lee Rogers of the Infostormer."

[H/T NY Mag]