White supremacists say they are planning to inundate Twitter with imposter accounts pretending to be black people, in response to the social media company’s crackdown of accounts associated with the racist alt-right movement.
Twitter announced its new anti-harassment policy this week, which they immediately followed with the suspension of high profile accounts associated with white supremacists involved in the alt-right movement. Among the accounts removed was one that belonged to Richard B Spencer of the white supremacist National Policy Institute, who coined the term “alt-right” in 2008.
White supremacists groups, who much of the press now refers to as the alt-right, celebrated Donald Trump’s election victory. Their support strengthened with the appointment of Breitbart’s Steve Bannon to the position of chief strategist. Bannon, an accused anti-Semite, proudly declared Breitbart as the “platform for the alt-right” in an interview with Mother Jones.
Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer announced the misinformation campaign on his website, calling on readers to create fake accounts on the platform.
“When you have time, create a fake black person account,” he wrote. “Just go on black Twitter and see what they look like, copy that model. Start filling it with rap videos and booty-shaking or whatever else these blacks post.”
He added that the posts need to be “indistinguishable” from actual Twitter accounts belonging to black people. According to the post, there are about 1,000 fake accounts already in existence.
Twitter announced their hateful conduct policy on Tuesday after years of criticism of how they did not address hate speech or harassment in the wake of Gamergate and the racist attacks on comedian Leslie Jones.
The new policy prohibits attacks or threats “on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease”. The company also introduced a new mute future which allows users to block tweets with certain words.
Social media sites like Twitter, Reddit, and 4chan have been instrumental in the growth of the new alt-right white supremacist movement.
According to a study from the George Washington University Programme on Extremism, the number of accounts belonging to self-identified neo-Nazis and white nationalists multiplied by more than 600 per cent since 2012 – a rate higher than accounts belonging to Isis sympathisers.
The study says: “Today, [white nationalist Twitter accounts] outperform Isis in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day."