Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart’s tech editor and self-described “most fabulous supervillain on the internet,” has been permanently banned from Twitter. The microblogging site’s decision follows accusations that Yiannopoulos incited his followers to send abusive tweets to Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.
On Monday, the actress publicized some of the racist and misogynistic abuse she had received on the platform, which included being compared to an ape. Yiannopoulos responded with “If at first you don’t succeed (because your work is terrible), play the victim. EVERYONE GETS HATE MAIL FFS.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked Jones to contact him on Monday night, but she ultimately quit Twitter “with tears and a very sad heart.”
@Lesdoggg Hi Leslie, following, please DM me when you have a moment— Jack (@jack) July 19, 2016
Yiannopoulos’ Twitter account was suspended the next day. And while the company didn’t specifically address the incident, it put out the following statement.
People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter. But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. Over the past 48 hours in particular, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of accounts violating these policies and have taken enforcement actions against these accounts, ranging from warnings that also require the deletion of Tweets violating our policies to permanent suspension.
We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behavior on Twitter. We agree. We are continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to better allow us to identify and take faster action on abuse as it's happening and prevent repeat offenders. We have been in the process of reviewing our hateful conduct policy to prohibit additional types of abusive behavior and allow more types of reporting, with the goal of reducing the burden on the person being targeted. We’ll provide more details on those changes in the coming weeks.
Yiannopoulos has called the suspension “cowardly,” saying it would "blow up in their faces, netting me more adoring fans." In a post on Breitbart, he said: " With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives. Twitter is holding me responsible for the actions of fans and trolls using the special pretzel logic of the left. Where are the Twitter police when Justin Bieber's fans cut themselves on his behalf?"
Like other social media sites, Twitter has come under fire for not being quick enough when it comes to removing hateful content, but knows that doing so often leaves it open to accusations of censorship. The company emphasizes, however, that it suspended Yiannopoulos for harassing and abusing other users - a violation of its TOS - and not for expressing his opinions.