Twitter suspends accounts linked to far-right movement

Latest move follows social media’s launch of an anti-harassment keyword filtering tool

Abuse on the micro-blogging social media platform has been a persistent complaint among users. Photograph: Getty Images

Twitter has suspended some accounts associated with the alt-right movement as the social media company added tools to curb abuse and harassment.

Among the suspended accounts were Richard Spencer, Pax Dickinson, Ricky Vaughn and John Rivers.

Mr Spencer is often credited with spearheading the alt-right movement, an ideology that’s been associated with white supremacist views.

“The account shutdowns were earlier reported by USA Today . . . prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies,” according to an e-mailed statement from a Twitter spokesperson.


Major complaint

The account of the National Policy Institute, of which Mr Spencer is president, and Radix Journal, a magazine he runs, were also suspended. Twitter, whose failure to curb harassment on the site has been a major complaint from users, rolled out an anti-harassment keyword filtering tool on Tuesday that allows people to mute seeing certain words, such as racial slurs and foul language.

People can also block whole conversations. There is also a new option to report "hateful conduct" in addition to abuse and harassment. Social media platforms came under increasing scrutiny during the presidential campaign. Following president-elect Donald Trump's victory, critics argued that Facebook allowed false news to run on the site and that its algorithm amplified the voices people wanted to hear.

Xenophobic groups

Abuse on Twitter, already a main complaint of users, intensified and became more public. Mr Trump has faced repeated criticism for attracting the support of racist and xenophobic groups. One of the first points of controversy came in February when Mr Trump did not immediately reject support from David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, saying he didn't "know anything about white supremacists."

The president-elect has since said that he disavowed Duke's support. It's not the first time Twitter has actively taken measures to boot members who are part of the alt-right movement. In July, Twitter permanently banned Milo Yiannopoulos, known as @nero on the site, for leading harassment of Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.

– (Bloomberg)