Twitter has begun enforcing its new rules to crack down on hateful or abusive tweets, resulting in the suspension or banishment of some well-known accounts.
Banned accounts include Britain First, a far-right, ultranationalist British political organization, the American Nazi Party and white supremacist publication American Renaissance. The personal accounts of American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor and leaders of Britain First Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding were also banned.
American Renaissance, in a press release, said it had appealed the ban of both its own and Taylor’s accounts. Twitter’s response, however, has made it clear the appeals are a lost cause.
“Your account has been suspended and will not be restored because it was found to be violating Twitter’s Terms of Service, specifically the Twitter Rules against being affiliated with a violent extremist group,” Twitter said in its reply to the appeal.
“We consider violent extremist groups to be organizations that – whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform – use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.”
Britain First is also hitting back at Twitter for its decision by starting a petition demanding its accounts be reinstated.
“Twitter has closed down the popular accounts of Britain First, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen,” the petition reads. “Islamic hate accounts or communists are left alone, but anyone speaking out against mass immigration and terrorism is closed down. Sign our petition and demand that Twitter reinstates our accounts immediately.”
Twitter’s new rules target any accounts that promote violence and hate in their tweets, usernames or bios. According to Twitter’s guidelines, accounts that are affiliated with organizations that use or promote violence to further their causes could also face suspension.
Twitter went on to say that any content that “glorifies violence or the perpetrators of a violent act” will be flagged and the offending tweets removed. If there are “repeated violations” the account will be suspended permanently.
So far, the majority of accounts that have been suspended appear to be from the radical right. As Bloomberg pointed out, “Twitter has been criticized for arbitrary decisions on what members and content to ban, and Monday’s moves are unlikely to help.”
Even Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has criticized Twitter, saying its actions are a bigger threat to free speech online than those of the major broadband providers.
Although Twitter has yet to comment on the criticism, it seems likely that the microblogging firm will enforce banishment on all extremist accounts — both from the far right and the far left.