Tuesday 15 October 2019

Twitter removes far-right chief who Trump retweeted

Stock photo: Getty/NurPhoto
Stock photo: Getty/NurPhoto
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Twitter has begun a "purge" of users, with new rules banning people who are deemed to condone hate speech, incite violence or are otherwise connected with organisations adjudged to be objectionable by Twitter moderators.

One early casualty of the new policy is the far-right 'Britain First' political party, whose leaders' accounts were suspended yesterday. The party's leader, Jayda Fransen, recently came to prominence after US President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Islam tweets she had posted.

However, despite retweeting the banned accounts' messages, President Trump is unlikely to be affected as the policy "does not apply to military or government entities".

Twitter also said it would make exceptions for those who are associated with organisations that advocate violence but who are also elected to national assemblies or parliaments.

A spokeswoman for Twitter could not confirm how many Irish accounts had been suspended or whether the purge had affected a significant number of Twitter users here. While the company said the move was an attempt to make the platform "safer", it was being interpreted by some right-wing political groups as an exercise in political streamlining.

"Twitter's terms of censorship change tomorrow, so I might not be here," right-wing National Party leader and anti-abortion activist Justin Barrett tweeted on Sunday.

However, Mr Barrett survived the first day of the cull.

Accounts will be considered for suspension when reported by other Twitter users.

However, the social network said it will also take into account the behaviour or conduct of Twitter users and their affiliated organisations outside the social media platform.

"Groups included in this policy will be those that identify as such or engage in activity - both on and off the platform - that promotes violence," said the company's policy guide.

Twitter has drawn criticism from competing political and social commentators, who charge the network with not adequately protecting users from harassment bias.

Irish Independent

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