News & Politics

Is a Twitter Purge of the Alt-Right Underway?

The site just banned a prominent white supremacist, who could be the first of many.

Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

Bowing to public pressure, Twitter is enforcing a series of rules Monday that will potentially suspend accounts affiliated with hate groups and lead to a long-overdue crackdown on the so-called alt-right, Recode reported Sunday. 

The rules were initially announced in November, but are only now going into effect. According to Recode, "Twitter will also start penalizing accounts that include 'hateful imagery and display names,' presumably including Nazi insignia, or those who 'use [a] username, display name, or profile bio to engage in abusive behavior.'"

Users have complained for nearly two years that Twitter has squandered its considerable resources on cosmetic changes and expanded character limits, while providing a platform for racism and violence online and off. Hate groups have exploited Twitter's lax oversight to harass Jewish journalists, organize the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally, and help propagate Pizzagate, which led to a shooting in a DC pizza place, among other offenses. 

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Most critically, Twitter said that in addition to banning accounts, it "would be monitoring groups’ behavior outside of the website, as it makes its decision as to which users have run afoul of its new guidelines."

Twitter's new policy also states that, “You also may not affiliate with 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." 

Not one to go quietly, many of the hate groups are already shifting to another social media platform, Gab, which has proven friendlier to white nationalists.

The purge began Monday morning. As Will Sommer, campaign editor at the Hill and alt-right expert is documenting on his Twitter feed, so far Jared Taylor and his American Renaissance site were off as of 10am EST. 

Follow Sommer for more updates on Twitter's progress.

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Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.