Twitter bans some white supremacists from their platform, but efforts still feel hollow
Twitter took the step Monday of banning some white supremacists and groups from using its platform, most of them connected with the anti-immigrant Britain First group that Donald Trump recently retweeted to instant and swift backlash. Also included in the sweeping bans were individuals connected with League of the South and American Renaissance.
This move from Twitter is likely in response to deserved criticism that it wasn’t doing enough to protect its users from racist violent threats and speech, much like the charges Facebook faces from its users.
However, this move still seems rather arbitrary, and is unlikely to stem the criticism that how Twitter picks who is banned reflects the backgrounds of those who comprise its offices, that is to say, white men. Additionally, Twitter did not ban white supremacist leaders like David Duke, Jason Kessler or Richard Spencer, the latter of whom noted that even though he had lost around 100,000 followers following the ban, there were still “plenty of Pro-White accounts.”
Twitter banning accounts was even absurdly used to argue for the dismantling of Net Neutrality by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, which the FCC ultimately voted to do. Pai is not the only Republican to latch onto this criticism that Twitter is somehow breaking with any tenant of free speech and suppression on the internet, however. After the platform took down a campaign video which referenced abortion, ex-Trump lackey Sean Spicer called the move part of an “attack on the GOP” in a Tweet and Marsha Blackburn, the candidate whose ad was taken down, called on conservatives to stand up against Silicon Valley, also in a Tweet.
This is unlikely to end the fight between women, people of color, and white supremacists who all are dissatisfied with the way Twitter handles sensitive issues like harassment, threats of violence and the censorship of ideas, but it merely adds a new chapter to an ongoing debate.