In another sign that Twitter is ramping up its fight against hate and harassment, the company booted several high-profile alt-right activists from its service Thursday. The step coincided with Twitter introducing new filters meant to combat abuse.
Among the users banned from the platform was Richard Spencer, who heads the extreme right National Policy Institute and has been called a “radical white separatist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also banned was Pax Dickinson, who rose to prominence as the CTO of Business Insider, a job that he was fired from in 2013 after Valleywag reported about his racist and otherwise demeaning outbursts on Twitter.
Other banned users include alt-right activists Paul Town, Ricky Vaughn and John Rivers, as well as the Twitter accounts of Spencer’s National Policy Institute and his blog. The bans were first reported by USA Today.
This isn’t the first time for Twitter to take steps against the extreme right on its platform. In July, the company banned Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos after he led a campaign of harassment against “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones.
Twitter had long been criticized for not doing enough to stem the spread of hate and harassment on its platform. This criticism intensified after the election of Donald Trump, which has led to a wider debate about the role of social media in combating fake news and hate speech.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose company has also received intense criticism for allowing the spreading of fake news, has repudiated the idea that his company could have helped to sway the election. But Google CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged Tuesday that it wouldn’t have taken a lot to influence the election due to Trump’s small margin of victory.