After a series of temporary bans, Twitter has finally (and permanently) banned a twitter user (with a dedicated following of more than 350,000) that the social media company has deemed to have violated its terms and conditions of usage.
Twitter has also explained that this ban is a result of several violations of service and complaints from many of other twitter users who have been following the activities of this specific user’s account.
As admitted by former CEO Dick Costolo, the amount of hatred and abuse on Twitter has started to affect users of the US-based social media platform and that, in turn, has hurt Twitter’s core base of users.
The account in question is of Brietbart.com’s Tech Editor Milo Yiannopoulous who is simply known as Milo, who reportedly made rude and racist remarks about an actress (Leslie Jones) that has starred in the recently released Ghostbusters film (the film is a remake of an all-male cast of Ghostbusters that was released years earlier and has been panned by fans the world over.) that lead to the actress threatening to leave Twitter.
While the ban from Twitter may come as a surprise to some, the fact is that for those who have been following Mr. Milo’s tweets for a while, the suspension of the account was the least Twitter could do as an organization.
But Twitter didn’t ban Mr. Milo’s account without giving him a significant benefit of doubt. The benefit of doubt, in this case, lasted years.
Mr. Milo, according to most media outlets, has tweeted provocative content (in the form of tweets) on many occasions in the past and had gotten away with it, till now that is.
His account received multiple, but temporary, suspensions in the past and Twitter even removed the “blue check” from his account. Blue check is a trademark Twitter badge which authenticates Twitter accounts of celebrities and other important public figures who appear in mass media on a regular basis.
Breitbart Tech Editor, Milo Yiannopoulous is widely considered to be a conservative and that perception of him is further backed by a series of online troll campaigns that his followers launched against actress Leslie Jones.
Hollywood might be the wrong industry for, as Robert Downey Jr so aptly put it, people without sin but that does not justify online harassment campaigns against these actors and actresses.
Leslie’s decision to quit twitter led to a huge reaction from Twitterverse which prompted Twitter to take matters into their own hands and move quickly before the situation got out of control.
The social media platform, where you share what you want to within 140 characters, has stated that it intends to introduce a new process of verification of Twitter accounts that will further act as a deterrent against situations where individuals are vilified unjustly.
Right now, only Twitter officials can verify an account. The criteria for Twitter account verification is a subjective one as only public figures and entities who Twitter employees deem as important ones are able to receive the verification badge.
The verification badge (the blue tick you see in front of many celebrity account display pictures) does not grant any extra privileges to the account holder but does add a layer of authenticity to the account.
Normally people judge a Twitter account’s authority on a subject by looking for the blue badge. Twitter till now did not take requests from people who wanted their accounts verified.
In recent years, Twitter has said that number of followers or the amount of tweets a specific account has is not Twitter’s criteria of awarding these blue badges.
But now, Twitter has taken steps to change that. Twitter has said that the general public will be able to take advantage of the new verification process that is about to come out very soon.
Twitter officials also said that the company aims to introduce a series of protection programs such as anti-spam and anti-harassment for Twitter accounts that have the blue badges.
Apparently, these programs would only be available to those Twitter accounts that have the blue badges. The rest will have to live in the old system.
As it turns out, Mr. Milo of Breitbart is not the first right-wing celebrity (if one can call him a noted media personality i.e. a celebrity) that has been barred from using the hugely popular micro-blogging website.
A year ago Charles Johnson, who according to his now suspended twitter account, was a researcher, journalist, author, and a debunker of frauds met the same fate when he doxed two New York Times journalists.
His suspension from Twitter was also permanent.
Reddit, another community driven social website, has also started to ban accounts that seem troublesome. The website officials say that they will continue to crack down on accounts that do not conform to an acceptable level of behavior.
The site suspended a number of users and groups last year who, the site deemed, as “bigoted” and “virulent”.
In a comeback of sorts, Milo Yiannopoulos has used his position as a Tech Editor on Breitbart to respond back to his critics saying that the account suspension from Twitter was a cowardly act.
Mr. Milo also stated that he could not be held responsible for the actions of his follower and that there have been many other instances where Twitter showed extreme laxity in punishing groups that performed socially unacceptable acts.
The Tech Editor from Breitbart cited Justin Bieber’s case where his legion of fans cut themselves on Bieber’s behalf for some convoluted reasons of their own.
Yiannopoulous also believes that this act of account suspension from Twitter would be of little consequence but in fact, might help him become more famous and hence net more followers.
His statement on Breitbart also conveyed that people who agreed with his philosophy were actually winning the culture war and Twitter did itself no favors by silencing his ideas as the act itself was a direct violation of freedom of speech.
It remains to be seen if Leslie Jones, the actress who claimed she was a target of an online troll campaign from Mr. Milo and his followers, would come back to Twitter after such an experience even though she has received support from some of his fellow co-stars on Twittersphere.