Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos is well known for his provocative statements and stances. However, on Tuesday, Twitter suspended his account for tweets he had directed at actress Leslie Jones.
The incident started when Jones began responding to tweets from vocal critics of her performance in the new movie remake of Ghostbusters. The tweets cascaded and became more vociferous as Jones began defending the film and responding in anger. This reaction is exactly what trolls look for and love. It did not take long for the tweets to become vulgar and racist as the Twitter trolls dug in for a flame war.
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) July 20, 2016
In the midst of the venom spewing, Yiannopoulos decided to add his two cents, and he and Jones exchanged several blows on the social media outlet. Due to the suspension, Milo’s tweets are inaccessible, but according to HeatStreet, Yiannopoulos did not tweet anything that was racist.
“Milo himself said nothing racist, though he joked that Jones’ grammatically challenged quips at him were ‘barely literate’, said America needs better schools and referred to Jones facetiously as ‘a black dude.'”
According to Fox News, while the Breitbart columnist may not have tweeted anything racist himself, he allegedly “led the harassment campaign against Jones” with his followers.
Twitter confirmed to HeatStreet that Milo’s account had been permanently banned due to violations of its “hateful conduct policy.” In a public statement, Twitter expressed its concern over this issue.
“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 behavior on Twitter. We agree.”
When asked if he had any regrets over his tweets to Jones, Milo stated, “No, of course, I don’t have any regrets. But feminists on the other hand should have regrets that they have taught strong women that they are victims and attacked people for having different opinions to them on Twitter.”
— Media Guardian (@mediaguardian) July 20, 2016
Milo Yiannopoulos’ Twitter suspension came right before he was to speak at a party at the GOP convention Tuesday night. BuzzFeed reported that Milo was critical of Twitter’s decision to suspend him.
“They made a very dumb decision right before I had the eyes of the world media on me. I think they’re going to come to regret it. Anyone who believes in free speech was sent a very powerful message today, which is that you’re not welcome on Twitter.”
Yiannopoulos also voiced his opinion through Breitbart calling that suspension “cowardly.” He believes that Twitter favors liberal views above conservative views, and they were holding him personally responsible for the tweets of others.
While Twitter has not suspended conservatives en masse, it has suspended some of the most outspoken ones. Far-right journalists Chuck Johnson and Robert Stacy McCain are two examples of conservatives who had their accounts banned.
Chuck Johnson was an almost notorious Twitter troll and was also the journalist who discredited the Rolling Stone University of Virginia gang rape story, according to Slate. He is also famous for exposing biased journalism and the false reporting seen in the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson. Last year, he tweeted to his followers for help in “taking out” [as in exposing] activist DeRay Mckesson. Shortly after that, Mckesson appeared on CNN publicly calling for the suspension of Johnson’s Twitter account, insinuating that Chuck had meant the comment as a death threat. The very next day Johnson’s account was permanently banned.
— Sky Palma (@DeadStateTweets) June 3, 2015
— Evi L. Bloggerlady (@MsEBL) March 18, 2016
Robert Stacy McCain was also targeted by Twitter’s supposed speech police earlier this year. Stacy is an outspoken, conservative blogger who was banned from Twitter and never given a reason despite attempts to obtain one. According to Breitbart, Twitter not only banned McCain, but they also purposefully hindered efforts by users and followers to call attention to the unfair treatment and get his account reinstated. Twitter allegedly disabled the auto-complete feature for the FreeStacy hashtag.
The Twitter ban is not Milo Yiannopoulos’ first suspension.
BuzzFeed states that “he’s been temporarily banned from Twitter a number of times for violating its terms of service and stripped of his verified status.”
When asked if he would try to get his account reinstated he said, “I don’t know, maybe. I’m going to see what I can do.”
Meanwhile, Leslie Jones has apparently abandoned her Twitter account. Her last tweet on Monday seemed to indicate that she had had enough of Twitter and was not coming back.
“I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart. All this cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the **** I got today…wrong”
Perhaps after cooling down, she will be back.
As for Milo Yiannopoulos, maybe his suspension will be lifted if enough of his followers get behind an effort to reinstate him. A “#FreeMilo” campaign has already begun. If not, it will not be the last we hear from the flamboyant right-winger. Yiannopoulos is still employed by Breitbart and had made a name for himself long before this latest Twitter suspension. His following will not disappear with his account.
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]