San Francisco: Twitter accounts of white supremacy advocates who cheered Donald Trump’s election victory were mute on Thursday, suspended as the social network battles hateful vitriol spewed by “trolls.”
Terminated Twitter accounts included that of Richard Spencer, a leader in an ‘alt-right’ white nationalist movement in the US, and accounts associated with his magazine and “think tank.”
“I think Twitter, Facebook and others are deeply triggered by this election and that social media helped elect Trump,” Spencer said in a video posted on YouTube.
Spencer compared the account suspensions to Adolf Hitler in 1934 wiping out opposition to his Nazi Party to consolidate power in Germany in what is referred to in history as the Night of the Long Knives.
“Basically, my entire digital presence on Twitter has been suspended,” he said in the video. “It is corporate Stalinism; there is a great purge going on.”
In response to an inquiry, Twitter referred to its rules prohibiting “violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct,” and its promise to take action on accounts violating those policies.
The account suspensions came after Twitter on Wednesday began rolling out a new weapon in the fight against harassment by “trolls” whose often abusive onslaughts can make the messaging service an unwelcoming place.
Online social networks have been struggling to balance free speech with intimidation and aggression that make many fearful of speaking freely.
Twitter in February suspended more than 125,000 accounts, most of them linked to the Islamic State group, as part of increased efforts to eradicate “terrorist content” on the popular messaging platform.
“The amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment we’ve seen across the internet has risen sharply over the past few years,” Twitter said as it announced an expanded “mute” feature that enables users to block accounts sending inappropriate messages.
Twitter will let users eliminate, or mute, notifications based on keywords, phrases or entire conversations they are not interested in seeing, according to the San Francisco-based company. Twitter already prohibits hate speech based on race, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
In its response, Twitter pointed out a section of its policy stating that it does not allow accounts “whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others.”
Measures announced included providing a more direct way for people to report abusive behavior, even if they are a witness to it and not the target.