Twitter has permanently suspended the account of Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a day after the infamous internet troll helped incite his followers to send a torrent of racist abuse to Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones. Twitter confirmed that Yiannopoulos would be kept off its service for good in the future, telling Recode and BuzzFeed that it would find any new account he creates in the future, and suspend it.
In a statement, Twitter alluded about to the abuse directed at Leslie Jones, but didn't refer to Yiannopoulos directly. "People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter," the statement reads. "But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. 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."
The service was criticized over its painfully slow reaction to the coordinated racist abuse Leslie Jones faced over the past few days, with the comedian herself calling for stricter guidelines to stamp out hate speech. "We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behavior on Twitter," the company's statement reads. "We agree." But while banning one of its most notoriously toxic users is a good first step, Twitter is still vague on what it will actually do to curb the kind of abuse and harassment some of its users face on a daily basis.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey followed Jones after she exposed some of the service's worst trolls yesterday, responding directly to a tweet calling for better safeguards, and asking her to DM him "when she had a moment." In today's statement, it suggests where it will go next with those safeguards. "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," the company says. "We have been in the process of reviewing our hateful conduct policy to prohibit additional types of abusive behavior 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."
Yiannopoulos has responded to Twitter's ban, saying that the site has "confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives." He says that the decision will "blow up" in Twitter's face, "netting me more adoring fans."
The Breitbart tech editor had delighted in tormenting other Twitter users for the past few years, using such public attacks to position himself as a figurehead of the GamerGate movement, despite making his disdain for gamers clear in the years before. Previously Twitter responded to his vicious antics by removing his verified status, but allowed him to keep insulting other users and inciting his hundreds of thousands of followers to do the same — albeit without a blue tick. By banning him, Twitter has ensured other users won't need to face his insults directly, but the company will also need to prevent his fervent gang of followers from continuing his rotten legacy.
Update July 19th, 11:15PM ET: Added statement from Yiannopoulos.