Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for Breitbart Tech, GamerGate’s “based journalist,” and agent-provocateur-in-chief, has finally been banned from Twitter after coming under fire for directing hate speech at Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, beginning with a series of faked tweets.
Yiannopoulos has drawn fire before for siccing an “internet hate mob” on his various targets through slanderous hit pieces — perhaps most notably against Sarah Nyberg and Brianna Wu — many of which allegedly had to be reviewed by Breitbart‘s legal department multiple times before he was allowed to publish them. In addition, Yiannopoulos gained further notoriety for publishing a story indicating that Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King was actually white; a story which was later not only proven false, but to have been leaked to him by a source arrested for domestic terrorism by the FBI.
But for many, last night’s targeted, racist, frankly horrific attacks against Leslie Jones (which Yiannopoulos swore up and down he was simply reporting on) were the final straw, spawning a #BanNero (Yiannopoulos’ Twitter handle is @Nero) hashtag campaign and causing Jones to announce that she was leaving Twitter.
The furor grew to the point that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey personally stepped in for the target of a hate attack on Twitter for the first time.
@Lesdoggg Hi Leslie, following, please DM me when you have a moment
— jack (@jack) July 19, 2016
Now, according to Buzzfeed, Yiannopoulos has finally been banned permanently, and Twitter has promised to do better in the future.
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. 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 behavior 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.
At the time of his ban, Yiannopoulos had almost 400,000 followers.
Yiannopoulos’ career has been checkered at best; before being hired by Breitbart, he fronted the failed UK tech blog The Kernel. As The Guardian reported, the blog failed permanently when its parent company, Sentinel Media (of which Yiannopoulos was the sole director) was unable to actually pay its employees owed wages (in the amount of £16,853) as ordered by an employment tribunal.
Several years into his career with Breitbart, Yiannopoulos once again faced accusations of not paying his employees, in a bit of a different way. Buzzfeed again reported that Yiannopoulos was “a group effort,” citing inside sources which stated that Yiannopoulos’ articles were written by as many as 44 interns, both paid and otherwise, and providing screenshots and video suggesting this to be the truth – as well as him tasking interns to write deliberately incendiary material for him.
But by fair Yiannopoulos’ fame comes from his vicious attacks and support (and encouragement) of GamerGate, often providing them and other followers with targets for their harassment.
So it’s good to see Twitter and Jack Dorsey finally making an effort to deliver on their promised anti-harassment policies. But it’s also disturbing that it took this much to get them to do so; that a massive public outcry and a vicious attack on a celebrity were required in the first place. More power to Leslie Jones, but Jack has never stepped in once before – it required a truly venomous attack and a high-profile target before he intervened. Then again, It is clear that Twitter is biased when it comes to which users they block or remove.
Good for Twitter and good for Jack Dorsey for finally stepping up; let us hope that they mean to continue as they’ve finally begun.
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]