This week Twitter suspended a number of a accounts associated with the alt-right movement.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) the alt-right movement is “a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that ‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization.” The SPLC goes on to say that the alt-right is “characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes,” likely because the movement has thrived online.
Among those suspended on Tuesday was Richard Spencer, a white nationalist and head of the National Policy Institute (NPI), which has been labeled an alt-right think tank by many news outlets. NPI defines itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.” NPI’s account was suspended, along with Spencer’s publication, Radix Journal.
Spencer told The Daily Caller, “This is corporate Stalinism. Twitter is trying to airbrush the Alt Right out of existence. They’re clearly afraid. They will fail!”
Spencer also posted a video to Youtube, Tuesday, during which he says, “I am alive physically but digitally speaking there has been execution squads across the alt right.” He goes on to say, “There is a great purge going on and they are purging people based on their views.”
Other prominent alt-right figures who were suspended include Paul Town, Pax Dickinson, Ricky Vaughn and John Rivers.
Heidi Beirich, spokeswoman for the SPLC, told USA Today that the center had asked Twitter to remove over 100 accounts of white supremacists, including Spencer’s, as they violate Twitter’s terms of service.
“We are encouraged by the decisions taken by Twitter,” Beirich said according the USA Today. “Now it is a matter of whether they are carried out. Obviously, well-known white supremacists violate these terms of service and we are glad it appears that Twitter has chosen to step up on these issues.”
While many, including Beirich and the SPLC, are pleased with Twitter’s decision to suspend these account, others are concerned about censorship.
— WeSearchr (@wesearchr) November 15, 2016
Supporters of the alt-right movement, like Spencer, appear to believe that unless their tweets crossed the line into incitement, then Twitter is partaking in content discrimination. In other words, they’re censoring users simply because of their views.
Many have criticized the alt-right’s views, saying they reflect white supremacism, ethnic nationalism, anti-feminism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia and homophobia. However, the question remains: have social media platforms gone too far by suspending accounts altogether, or are they justified in their actions?