On the same day that Twitter announced new tools it says will make it easier to report and block accounts that use hate speech, the social media site suspended several accounts associated with the White supremacist alt-right movement.
Per USA Today, the accounts that were suspended today (November 16) include those of:
- Richard Spencer, leader of an alt-right think tank who reportedly “wants Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Jews removed from the U.S.” Notably, Spencer’s account had previously earned a “verified” checkmark, which is awarded to accounts that Twitter feels are “of public interest.”
- National Policy Institute, Spencer’s think tank, whose tagline is “for our people, our culture, our future”
- Radix Journal, Spencer’s online magazine
- Paul Town, whose website calls him “the leading thought leader of Alt-Right, nRx and Hestia”
- Pax Dickinson, the former chief technology officer for Business Insider, who was fired for racist and sexist tweets
- John Rivers, alt-right mouthpiece
Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center told USA Today that her organization previously asked Twitter to deactivate the more than 100 White supremacist accounts that have violated the site’s terms of service.
The suspensions come on the same day that Twitter posted a blog entry detailing how it will curb the use of its platform for abuse. It is rolling out an expanded feature that lets users mute keywords and phrases in their notification so that abusive posts don’t make it to their feed. The site is also streamlining the process for reporting abuse that “targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease.” The post also says that the company has retrained its support teams on dealing with hateful conduct, and revamped its internal process for handling reports.
Twitter has come under contact in the past for not effectively addressing racist and other harassment, and former CEO Dick Costolo sided with critics in 2015, when he wrote an internal memo about it. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” Costolo wrote, per The Verge. “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”