Notorious right-wing journalist Milo Yiannopoulos is among a number of Twitter users to be banned from the social media site, following the targeted abuse of Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.
Jones received numerous racist messages from users, and while Yiannopoulos himself did not send any overtly racist posts, he made personal comments about Jones during his slating of her performance in the movie, and appears to have breached Twitter’s rules on “inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others”.
Yiannopoulos is the technology editor for Breitbart.com, and tweeted as @Nero. He had more than 338,000 followers and branded himself “the most fabulous supervillain on the internet”.
His reaction to the ban was defiant and completely unapologetic.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, he said: “Like all acts of the totalitarian regressive left, this will blow up in their faces, netting me more adoring fans. We’re winning the culture war, and Twitter just shot themselves in the foot.”
“This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you’re not welcome on Twitter.”
He also called the suspension of his account “cowardly” and said Twitter was a “no-go zone for conservatives”.
Yiannopoulos is known for his inflammatory views and has likened rape culture to Harry Potter, calling them “both fantasy”. He also refers to Donald Trump as “daddy”.
He has been suspended from Twitter several times in the past for violating its terms of service, and had his verified status reversed this year.
Since Jones quit Twitter yesterday, there has been an outpouring of support for her by way of the #LoveForLeslieJ hashtag.
This was tweeted by Ghostbusters director, Paul Feig:
Similarly – yet much more sinisterly – Yiannopoulos’ fans echoed his criticisms of Twitter, prompting #FreeMilo to trend on the platform.
— Kassy Dillon (@KassyDillon) July 20, 2016
But Twitter has other ideas. A spokesperson for the social network said in a statement: “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.”
The statement also addressed Jones’s own criticisms that the platform does not go far enough to protect its users, particularly women and people of colour.
“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.”