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Social Media’s War Against Violent Speech

Social Media’s War Against Violent Speech

Last week, as one of controversial Twitter users a journalist named Milo Yiannopoulos tweeted his screenshot taken from a Twitter’s email warning his offensive personal expression on his wall. The message stated that “Due to recent violations of Twitter Rules…, the verified badge was has been removed from your account, @Nero.” Without any clarified reason of the violation, Twitter administrator only advised him to “review the Twitter Rules as additional violations may result in account suspension.”


Despite the cause which remains unclear, it is believed that the blue check mark indicated after his account name was removed because of Yiannopoulos’s contentious voice against social issues especially feminism on social media platform. “There's a new feminist Barbie. When you pull the string it says “Math is hard, let’s lie about rape,” a tweet of this journalist said.


“Users also may not make threats or promote violence against a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability,” Twitter’s official account described. The website is defining the term abusive behaviour on its policy page.


Yiannopoulos is a journalist of a right-wing tabloid Breitbart News who acquired 1,400,000 plus followers. The Twitter punishment actually backfired as the Dairy Wire News claimed that it actually draw over 10,000 new followers to his account. At the same time, this “blogebrity” rebutted Twitter’s action by replacing the blue verification symbol with black cross and continuing expressing his “not-so-kind” opinion. 


"I think this is the first step to getting me off the platform," he told CNNMoney. "Ridicule and criticism are being re-branded abuse and harassment." Yiannopoulos’s supporters also retorted Twitter’s intervention by unanimously tweeting a hashtag #JeSuisMilo mimicking #JeSuisCharlie the trendy hashtag flooded after the incident of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.


However, due to the removal of the verified status, it would trouble this journalist to distribute his message on Twitter channel since the followers would not clarify whether the message tweeted from the real Yainnopoulos.


To finding a balance, it could be quite challenging yet sensitive for an online space provider like Twitter to compromise the freedom of speech with the right to reserve users from verbal harassment. Hate speech prevention might be seen as Twitter’s good attention to create an ideal platform. But at the same time, the line to judge what is tolerable and what is out-of-limit, without interrupting the diversity of opinion, is still unclear. Instead of totally ban this British journalist, removing only the verified status might be a compromising option Twitter is offering to contentious users.


Read more:

Twitter crackdown on hate speech backfires


Twitter Removes Verified Status Of Controversial British Writer Milo Yiannopoulos