Yesterday, Twitter permanently suspended Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos, one of the social network’s most popular conservatives, generating a massive backlash on the platform that is still ongoing. Today, one question is still on everyone’s mind: did Milo actually do anything wrong?
In their email to Yiannopoulos, Twitter said he had been banned for “participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.” And it’s true that Twitter’s terms of service do include a specific ban on abuse and targeted harassment. The question is – did Milo really break the rule?
Keep in mind that Twitter did nothing when Jerome Hudson, a black reporter for Breitbart News, was repeatedly called “coon” by a prominent rapper on the platform. It has also let abusive and racist tweets from Leslie Jones, the Ghostbusters actress who reported Milo to Twitter, stand.
So, either Twitter has a very high bar for what constitutes “abuse and harassment,” or it is simply enforcing its terms of service unevenly, giving some users a pass despite flagrant and shocking rule-breaking.
Let’s be generous and assume, for a moment, that it has a high bar. What did Milo do to cross it?
Well, first he committed the mortal sin of criticising Leslie Jones’ comic performance in the new Ghostbusters movie, suggesting she was playing the victim instead of acknowledging criticism. “If at first you don’t succeed (because you’re work is terrible), play the victim. Everyone gets hate mail FFS.”
Jones then informed Milo that he had been blocked and reported to Twitter, before going on to call one of his supporters a “racist b*tch” after he accused her of trying to limit free speech. Milo said her tweets were “barely literate.”
Milo then jokes – to his followers, not to Jones – that he had been “rejected by yet another black dude” after Jones blocked him on Twitter. His final tweet on the subject included screenshots (later found to be doctored by trolls) of Jones engaging in racist abuse.
In other words, Milo has been permanently banned for little more than criticism, mild insults, and mockery. Meanwhile, Jerome Hudson’s abuser, who repeatedly called the black reporter a “coon,” is still on the platform. So is Leslie Jones, who, according to Twitter searches, has repeatedly engaged in racist rhetoric herself — as well the plain old abuse of calling her critics “b*tches,” “a**holes” and a range of other expletives.
Lord have mercy…white people shit
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) February 9, 2015
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
Jones also violated Twitter’s policy against targeted harassment, directly ordering her followers to mob another user.
@whitebecky1776 bitch I want to tell you about your self but I'm gonna let everybody else do it I'm gonna retweet your hate!! Get her!!
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
Even more damning were the calls for anti-cop violence that flooded Twitter in the wake of the Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings: most of the users who engaged in the sick calls for murder are still on the platform. Twitter has done nothing to punish these users, despite widespread coverage in conservative media.
We can only draw one conclusion from this, a conclusion that most readers will be fully aware of: Twitter has double standards. When progressives are engaging in abuse, death threats, and even open incitement to racially-motivated violence, it will do nothing. But when a conservative engaged in light mockery? A permaban.
This has happened multiple times before. It’s happened to Adam Baldwin, who had his account locked at the mere hint of an insult against feminists. It’s happened to Charles Johnson, who was permanently excluded from Twitter after using a metaphor to describe his impending investigation against DeRay Mckesson, the Black Lives Matter leader who enjoys a close personal relationship with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
For conservatives, any attempt to build a following on Twitter should be undertaken with the knowledge that the platform will seek out any excuse to undo any work you do on the platform. The more popular and effective you are, the harder they’ll work to get rid of you. Don’t expect fairness from Twitter. Expect bias. And start thinking about alternatives.
Milo agrees. In a comment to Breitbart, he said Twitter’s actions over the past 24 hours have permanently ended its old claims to be a a platform for free speech:
I did nothing wrong. Twitter has suspended me without evidence of wrongdoing and without explanation while allowing the most appalling abuses to continue on its platform. This is political, plain and simple. Leslie Jones ain’t afraid of no ghost– but evidently she’s allergic to bad reviews.
Of course I didn’t break Twitter’s terms of service, they have a whole team of cybersleuths on the Milo beat, so what would be the point? Besides, I don’t need to break the terms of service to point out the mendacious hypocrisy of the left on social media. I suppose I did break Twitter’s unwritten rules by tweeting truths they’d prefer to leave unsaid. Twitter’s permanent suspension of my account makes a mockery of their claims to be a free speech platform.
Twitter is intent on protecting free speech, as long as you are a Hollywood actress who bravely tweets about white people, or a New York globalist advocating for violence against Donald Trump. They’ve made it clear that being gay and conservative doesn’t get me past the velvet rope into their free speech club, which is looking more and more like the same liberal echo chamber the mainstream media turned into decades ago.My suspension has made one thing clear– Twitter doesn’t stand for free speech. What they do stand for is a carefully crafted facade of leftist approved ideas, and conservatives that don’t stray too far from safe (globalist) ideas. Like so many platforms before them, their efforts to enforce groupthink will be their undoing.