Twitter Inc. vowed to strengthen its rules and regulations in order to tackle targeted abuse against its members, starting with a ban against Milo Yiannopoulos, who is a technology editor at Breitbart.
Yiannopoulos is blamed for leading an online campaign of sexual and racial taunts against Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones. Depressed with the abuse, Jones announced that she was leaving the social media site for good.
A spokesman for Twitter, Nu Wexler said in a statement ‘’no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online.’’ Wexler added that the company’s rules forbid provoking or engaging in the targeted harassment or abuse of others. He also said that over the past 48 hours in particular, Twitter has seen a surge in the number of users breaching these rules and has taken enforcement measures against these users, ranging from warnings to permanent suspension.
Yiannopoulos, followed by 338,000 users on Twitter, reacted in a comment on Breitbart, stating that Twitter’s actions breached the right to free speech. Yiannopoulos said “With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.”
In January, the company removed Yiannopoulos’s verification—the blue tick denoting an authenticated account—though didn’t go any further. Twitter blocks a user after reviewing reports sent by its members about abusive behaviour. However, Yiannopoulos’s supporters are arguing that Twitter’s actions demonstrate an anti-conservative bias.
Making the social network safer from those who make threats and harass is one of Dorsey’s leading priorities for the current year.
Wexler said Twitter continues to invest heavily in improving its tools and enforcement systems to better identify and take rapid action on abuse. He added that the company would seek to decrease the burden on the person being targeted. Twitter will come up with more information on those changes in the coming weeks, he said.