Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart blogger better known on Twitter as @Nero, has been permanently banned from Twitter after inciting a campaign of racist harassment against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones that prompted the actress to quit Twitter.
Yiannopoulos — alt-right icon and the charming creator of these "Feminism is cancer" hoodies — was notorious for encouraging his followers to harass prominent feminists. Last October he told the Los Angeles Times, "I enjoy upsetting the right people. I love poking fun at earnest censors. I want to push the bounds of what can be said on the internet."
Welp, looks like Yiannopoulos pushed the bounds a little too hard this time.
According to Twitter's rules, the company "[does] not tolerate behaviour that crosses the line into abuse, including behaviour that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user's voice." Twitter, however, is infamously bad at enforcing said rules. Last year, then CEO Dick Costolo wrote in a leaked memo,
"We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years. 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."
Now, it seems, the company sucks a little less.
This is a step in the right direction for Twitter. A female comedian who was the victim of one of Yiannopoulos's harassment campaigns tells Gizmodo, "I know Milo's reach extends far beyond Twitter, the platform has been giving him a very easy tool for organising targeted harassment... I feel safer on Twitter."
Still, she asked that we don't use her name because she's still afraid of Yiannopoulos's army of Twitter eggs coming after her.
Discko says that while this certainly won't end to abuse on Twitter, it's a step in the right direction. She tells Gizmodo,
"I'm glad he's finally gone but as someone has been harassed every day for the past year and a half, why weren't my reports good enough? It's sad that Leslie has to be the victim of this for things to change."
Guess it really is up to actors to change the world. Twitter also released 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 behaviour 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 behaviour 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."
In a Breitbart post, Yiannopoulos said, "Like all acts of the totalitarian regressive left, this will blow up in their faces, netting me more adoring fans. We're winning the culture war, and Twitter just shot themselves in the foot."
Okey dokey, buddy. Then again, this is coming from a guy who literally went to the White House to complain about Twitter removing his verification check mark after violated the site's rules.
Yiannopoulos continued, "This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you're not welcome on Twitter." Or, maybe don't incite abusive campaigns and you'll be fine. [H/T BuzzFeed]