Twitter has initiated a major purge of prominent accounts associated with the alt-right exactly a week after GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory.
One of the first and most prominent accounts caught up in the deletion is Richard Spencer, president and director of the National Policy Institute, an alt-right think tank focused on white identity and related policy issues.
Twitter removed Spencer’s verified account, formerly available at @RichardBSpencer, Tuesday evening.
Twitter also suspended the National Policy Institute’s official account (@npiamerica) and its online magazine (@RadixJournal), in addition to a separate book publishing company run by Spencer called Washington Summit Publishers (@washsummit).
The ban took place the same day Spencer appeared on NPR and The Daily Show.
Paul Town, one of the alt-right trolls responsible for feeding Olivia Nuzzi at The Daily Beast a false and outlandish narrative on how Pepe the cartoon frog came to be associated with white nationalism, was also suspended.
Other suspended users, among many, include Pax Dickinson, Ricky Vaughn and John Rivers — all notable alt-right accounts.
Just last week, Amelia Tait at New Statesman noted that the alt-right’s influence has surged, largely in part due to its use of social media networks. As she put it, the “alt-right – a new political movement of individuals with racist and misogynist viewpoints, who exist primarily on the internet – have thrived under Trump’s candidacy, and remained mostly unchecked by social media giants.”
Tait argued that social media giants need to “improve the way they deal with trolls, vitriol, and death threats on their sites.”
Charlie Warzel at BuzzFeed News recently made the case that Twitter was essential to Trump’s wildly successful campaign and has also resulted in the “empowerment of the insurgent political movement of the alt-right who, through a coordinated effort of trolling and online organization, drove enthusiasm and momentum against the establishment and for Trump.”
While Twitter has in the past slowly cracked down on accounts near the alt-right, such as those of WeSearchr CEO Chuck Johnson and journalist Milo Yiannopoulos, the major purge Tuesday evening of prominent alt-right accounts is so far unprecedented.
In response to the purges, many alt-right users are heading over to Gab, a Twitter substitute platform with a much more aggressive free speech policy.