Twitter bans right-wing editor Milo Yiannopolous after Leslie Jones abuse

Yiannopoulos is one of Twitter’s most notorious trolls and is technology editor of conservative website Breitbart

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The Independent Online

Twitter has permanently banned one of the editors of conservative news website Breitbart after racist abuse was directed at Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones by Twitter users.

Jones, a comedian who stars in the new Ghostbusters reboot, has been bombarded with vitriolic racist tweets in the days after the film’s opening weekend. 

In a series of tweets which have been captured by BuzzFeed, Breitbart technology editor and notorious Internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos responded to one of Jones’ tweets, writing: “Barely literate. America needs better schools”.

Yiannopoulos also directed the following tweet at Jones: “If at first you don’t succeed (because your work is terrible), play the victim. Everyone gets hate mail”.

In tweets which still exist on her account, Jones called for Yiannopoulos's Twitter account to be locked and said she had reported him.

Yiannopoulos, who tweets under the handle of @Nero, is a leading voice of the new “alt-right” movement, an alternative ideology to the conservative mainstream, and had close to 340,000 followers before being banned from Twitter.

His account was permanently suspended on Tuesday following claims he had aggravated and helped lead the online Twitter abuse of Jones. A screenshot of the message Twitter sent to him said his account has been “permanently suspended” for repeated violations of the Twitter rules, specifically those rules prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals”. The message said he received “repeated warnings” about similar issues in the past.

In a statement published first by Breitbart, Yiannopoulos argued his suspension was “cowardly” and suggested the social media site was “a no-go zone for conservatives”.

“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,” he wrote. “This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you’re not welcome on Twitter.”

Breitbart said his suspension came 20 minutes before he was due to speak at a “Gays for Trump” event at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Yiannopoulos is a keen proponent of Mr Trump and refers to him as “daddy”.

Yiannopoulos' fans have expressed their support for him since the ban, with a #FreeMilo hashtag trending on the site.

Following an onslaught of racist abuse from Twitter users on Monday, Jones shared many of the posts she received on Monday including those comparing her to a gorilla. She also rebuked Twitter for not doing enough to protect her.

Yiannopoulos, who dubbed himself The most fabulous supervillain on the internet” in his Twitter bio, penned a scathing review of Ghostbusters. He has been suspended from Twitter a number of times in the past for violating its terms of service and had his verified status removed earlier this year. He used the social media site to express his controversial and often inflammatory opinions and point his followers in the direction of his opponents. 

After Jones complained to Twitter about the abuse she received, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey publicly reached out to her on Twitter and asked her to message him.

A spokesperson from Twitter told The Independent people should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on the networking site. However, it stressed that no-one deserves to be targeted by online abuse. Our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others, the spokesperson said. 

“Over the past 48 hours in particular, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of accounts violating these policies and have taken enforcement actions against these accounts, ranging from warnings that also require the deletion of Tweets violating our policies to permanent suspension.”

“We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behaviour 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. We have been in the process of reviewing our hateful conduct policy to prohibit additional types of abusive behaviour and allow more types of reporting, with the goal of reducing the burden on the person being targeted. We’ll provide more details on those changes in the coming weeks.”

A representative for Yiannopoulos did not immediately respond to request for comment.