Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos was suspended permanently from Twitter after he and his followers were reported for harassing black comedian and actress Leslie Jones with a series of racist tweets.
The black actress became embroiled in a social media war with Yiannopoulos and some of his alt-right followers after starring in the newly released Ghostbusters movie, an all-female rendition of the 1984 version of the film. Some of the Twitter users harassed Jones with jabs at her face and figure, repeatedly comparing her to apes and gorillas.
Jones, who has posted many racist tweets herself, began reporting the demeaning sexist and racist tweets and expressing her frustration Monday.
Jones sent one last tweet before signing off from her account Monday evening:
Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey reached out to Jones Monday night, saying, “Hi Leslie, following, please DM me when you have a moment.”
By Tuesday, Yiannopoulos, who went by the Twitter handle @nero and maintains that he sent no racist tweets to Jones himself, had received an email from Twitter warning him that his account was about to be suspended, he told BuzzFeed News.
“They made a very dumb decision right before I had the eyes of the world media on me. I think they’re going to come to regret it,” he said. “Anyone who believes in free speech was sent a very powerful message today, which is that you’re not welcome on Twitter.”
Yiannopoulos’ suspension from Twitter came 20 minutes before his “Gays for Trump” event at the Republican National Convention, Breitbart News reported.
“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Yiannopoulos and his followers have demonstrated a long history of online harassment including racism, anti-Semitism, and sexism targeted at journalists, celebrities, politicians, and other public figures whose rhetoric did not align with their alt-right pro-Trump mission. He has been banned from Twitter temporarily in the past, but, according to the social media platform, this time it's permanent.
In a video posted to Twitter, conservative activist Kassy Dillon pointed out that Twitter hosts a variety of offensive and even threatening accounts by members of the Islamic State and racial extremists who called for the violent death of Americans and Western allies on Twitter.
Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, a longtime target of racist mockery and bullying from Yiannopoulos and his followers, said he did not think Twitter should have banned the Breitbart editor because “even bad people who tweet disgusting things should be allowed to speak.”
Yiannopoulos himself claims the Twitter ban has made him more popular. Hundreds of his followers began a hashtag trend #FreeMilo in support of him returning to Twitter, and angry free speech advocates who didn’t even think highly of him in the first place have slammed Twitter for shutting him down.
Yiannopoulos told BuzzFeed News he is not sure whether he will restart an alternate Twitter account.
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