SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco-based social media giant Twitter announced Friday it has permanently suspended the account of outspoken white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke as part of its crackdown on hate speech.
In a statement to the tech news site Engadget, a company spokesman said: “The account you referenced has been permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter Rules on hateful conduct. This enforcement action is in line with our recently-updated guidance on harmful links.”
The company did not say if a recent posting or continual hate speech postings were the reason they took the action.
Under public pressure to crackdown on questionable postings, Twitter has put in place a policy to ban accounts that directed followers to malware, terrorist threats and hateful conduct and violence.
Duke was the leader of the KKK from 1974 to 1978. His Youtube channel was suspended in late June.
For some, however, the decision to ban Duke — who had more than 53,000 followers — was too little, too late. Legal advocacy organization Southern Poverty Law Center, which specializes in litigation against white supremacist groups, called Twitter’s actions as “a step in the right direction,” while also chastising the move as “long overdue.”
“Twitter, and other social media companies and message boards, still have a lot of work to do to clean up their platforms and stop the spread of hateful ideologies and propaganda,” the nonprofit said in a statement.
Under the same policy guidelines, Twitter removed thousands of accounts last week linked to QAnon, a group known for spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation online.
“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm,” Twitter’s safety team said in a tweet. “In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called ‘QAnon’ activity across the service.”
More than 7,000 accounts have been removed in the last several weeks, according to the San Francisco-based social media giant. It also expects that additional actions it is taking to limit the reach of QAnon activity on its platform could affect 150,000 accounts worldwide.
QAnon began as a single conspiracy theory. But its followers now act more like a virtual cult, largely adoring and believing whatever disinformation the conspiracy community spins up.
Its main conspiracy theories claim dozens of politicians and A-list celebrities work in tandem with governments around the globe to engage in child sex abuse. Followers also believe there is a “deep state” effort to annihilate President Donald Trump.
“We will permanently suspend accounts Tweeting about these topics that we know are engaged in violations of our multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspension — something we’ve seen more of in recent weeks,” Twitter said.
Twitter’s multi-account policy prohibits coordinating with others to artificially engage or amplify conversations.