Twitter Bans Alt-Right Figures

Close on the heels of Donald Trump’s upset win over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, Twitter has banned a number of figures from the alt-right, an amorphous political movement with a pronounced online presence whose members were widely credited with helping propel Trump to victory.

Twitter has suspended the accounts of a number of prominent figures associated with the alt-right movement, according to USA Today, which first reported the news.

The list of alt-right Twitter users booted from the microblogging service includes Richard Spencer, who runs a think tank called the National Policy Institute and has called for the removal of non-white racial minorities from the U.S.; Twitter also blocked the accounts for the think tank and an online journal.

A number of other alt-right figures with white supremacist views also saw their accounts suspended by Twitter, include Paul Town, associated with several alt-right organizations; Pax Dickinson, a former CTO for Business Insider who made controversial comments about women; and Ricky Vaughn, the nom de plume for a political account which supported Donald Trump and was first banned in October.

According to the same report, the Southern Poverty Law Center has asked Twitter to block the accounts of more than 100 white supremacists, including some of these individuals.

Twitter previously banned Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart tech editor who became a high-profile conservative provocateur, after he encouraged followers to flood the Twitter account of "Ghostbusters" actress Leslie Jones with hostile spam, including many racist messages.

In a video posted on YouTube, Spencer pointed out that he wasn’t engaged in any activity that would qualify as “trolling,” as the practice is known, either by harassing other users himself or directing his followers to do so. Thus, his case seems to present an example in which Twitter is engaging in censorship on ideological grounds, rather than in attempt to stamp out bullying and intimidation.

Spencer complained: "The fact is that I, and a number of other people who have just got banned, weren't even trolling. I was using Twitter just like I always use Twitter, to give people some updates and maybe to comment on a news story here and there.”
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