Twitter suspended the accounts of prominent alt-right users hours after announcing changes aimed at reducing harassment on the social media platform, and the members of the movement are now calling for media outlets to condemn the actions.
Alt-right leaders Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer sent a statement to BuzzFeed, which called Twitter’s measures “outrageous” and “politically motivated.”
“We call on journalists to take a stand for free expression in response to yesterday’s outrageous purge of twitter accounts associated with the Alt-right. Several of the banned accounts were in no way guilty of trolling or ‘harassment,’ so we can conclude only that the bans were politically motivated,” the statement said. “We therefore call on all media outlets with a national reach to condemn Twitter’s censorship of these accounts.”
Taylor is the founder and editor of “race-realist” website American Renaissance and Spencer is the president of white nationalist think tank The National Policy Institute. The statement the duo provided to BuzzFeed also says media outlets that don’t follow their orders are assumed to “support the suppression of certain political views” and will be banned from upcoming events.
“The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies,” the company said in a statement to TheWrap.
Twitter did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for additional comment.
The open nature of Twitter has made it easy to reach out and harass, insult and threaten total strangers. Such trolling has become such an issue that President-elect Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, plans to make cyberbullying a key issue when she becomes first lady in January.
Twitter announced changes on Tuesday designed to reduce the “amount of abuse, bullying and harassment” to which users are exposed. It expanded its “mute” function to allow users to “mute keywords, phrases and even entire conversations you don’t want to see notifications about.”
The company also announced it had “retrained all of our support teams on our policies, including special sessions on cultural and historical contextualization of hateful conduct.”
USA Today describes the alt-right as “a loosely organized group that espouses white nationalism” which “emerged as a counterpoint to mainstream conservatism and has flourished online.”
The group has gained national attention since Trump shocked the world and defeated Hillary Clinton last week, his campaign CEO and former Breitbart boss Steve Bannon having been linked to the group. Bannon will be a senior advisor in Trump’s White House.
People took to Twitter to express thoughts on the suspended accounts:
— James Edwards (@JamesEdwardsTPC) November 16, 2016
The pattern is clear:
1. Twitter is engaged in racial discrimination against white men.
2. Twitter is anti-speech.
— Bunker ???????? Smith (@bunkerwsmith) November 16, 2016
Alt-right voices like @richardbspencer should be allowed on Twitter. (I do think accounts that meme people into Nazi ovens should be banned)
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) November 16, 2016
— Matt Forney (@basedmattforney) November 15, 2016
The shuttening is happening. @RichardBSpencer has been suspended for no reason other than his dissent against the replacement of Europeans.
— Fashy Haircut (@NathanDamigo) November 16, 2016
— The Current Year (@TheeCurrentYear) November 15, 2016
— John Furr (@JohnFurrToronto) November 16, 2016
— Scott (@Scottyt2Hottie) November 16, 2016
“Twitter is trying to airbrush the Alt Right out of existence. They’re clearly afraid. They will fail!” -Former acct @RichardBSpencer
— Zhivago of Tookland (@raywatts) November 16, 2016
Apparently twitter is going on a suspension purge of Trump supporters. We lost 30 followers today!
— NCC (@NCCollegians) November 16, 2016
#Twitter: Losing subscribers, advertisers.Tanking stock.End the suspension of accounts and censoring for snowflakes. Only ban death threats.
— Dr. Thomas Paul (@DrThomasPaul) November 16, 2016