Twitter suspended the accounts of well-known white nationalists Monday, moving swiftly to enforce its new rules aimed at reducing what it deems abusive content. The account of far-right group Britain First, a small group that regularly posts inflammatory videos purporting to show Muslims engaged in acts of violence, was among the first to go dark. The individual accounts of two of its leaders, Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding, were also suspended.
President Donald Trump caused a stir last month when he retweeted a post by Fransen, drawing criticism from British Prime Minister Theresa May. Fransen and Golding were arrested in Belfast last week for allegedly stirring up hatred.
Twitter said it would not comment on individual accounts. The company has emphasized that it takes into account many factors before making any enforcement decision, including context of the post, cultural and political considerations and the severity of the violation. Twitter’s actions drew praise from civil rights groups.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, commended Twitter ”for taking these significant steps to tackle hate on their platform.” The group Muslim Advocates, which had publicly called for the removal of Britain First’s account, applauded Twitter for ”updating its policies and taking steps today to remove violent and hateful accounts from its platform.” The guidelines, announced a month ago and put into force this week, address hateful images or symbols, including those attached to user profiles.
Monitors at the San Francisco company will weigh hateful imagery in the same way they do graphic violence and adult content. If a user wants to post symbols or images that might be considered hateful, the post must be marked ”sensitive media.” Other users would then see a warning that would allow them to decide whether to view the post.
Twitter is also prohibiting users from abusing or threatening others through their profiles or usernames.
The company also now bans accounts affiliated with ”organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.” The account for Jared Taylor, who heads the New Century Foundation, was among those suspended, along with his organization’s flagship online publication, American Renaissance.
Taylor said he immediately appealed the suspension but swiftly received a reply from Twitter informing him that his account would not be restored, which he interpreted to mean he had been permanently banned. He said Twitter determined his account was ”affiliated with a violent extremist group,” an allegation he denied.