In response to criticism, Twitter suspended over 50 white nationalist accounts on Friday. The company has faced sharp criticisms because it failed to handle extremist content.
How Hate Spreads on Social Media
Days before the ban, NBC News has reported a story about online hate groups. They discussed the spread of hate speech on social media. White nationalists have been uploading content on Twitter and YouTube. Recently, they have shared campaign ads for Pres. Donald Trump and Joe Biden. These ads played before one video called “Generation Identity—A Declaration of War From the Youth of France.” The nonprofit Global Project Against Hate and Extremism passed their report to NBC.
According to NBC, the video showed young men and women speaking French. Subtitled in English, they talked about the “failure of coexistence and forced mixing of races.” Somber music played.
The nonprofit has called out YouTube and Twitter for featuring these ads onto hate videos. They also accused both companies of enabling hate groups to spread their message to people. “YouTube promises this won’t happen, but it is,” Heidi Beirich, the report’s co-author said.
YouTube responded swiftly. They said that these videos do not earn money, and they should not contain any ads. A spokesperson said what happened was a mistake, and they’ve already fixed it.
Ads also target people using just “age, gender, postal code,” and other user information. If you’re a viewer, you only see ads according to your viewing habits. They also consider your “gender, age, and general location.”
The Biden campaign has demanded Google, YouTube’s parent company, to respond to the situation.
Twitter Finally Does Something About Hate Speech
In a statement, Twitter said that “the accounts in question” violated company policies regarding violent extremism. Civil rights groups had accused Twitter before for helping hate groups recruit new members.
The report from Global Project Against Hate and Extremism focused on the identitarian movement from Austria. Called Generation Identity, the group believes that immigrants are “replacing” native Europeans. Nearly 140,000 accounts follow the hate group. Generation Identity also hosts chapters in 14 countries, and have 67 Twitter accounts.
Global Project praised Twitter for the move. Beirich said that the hate groups tied to the attacks in New Zealand could no longer spread hate. Banning them also prevents them from recruiting. Beirich also referred to the 2019 mosque shooting in New Zealand. In that attack, a far-right extremist killed 51 people.
One right-wing leader complained about the ban. In a phone interview with NBC News, Martin Sellner said, “It is another act of censorship of freedom of speech.” Sellner leads the Identitarian Movement in Austria.
He also added that his group is the only one talking about the evils of mass immigration. They warned that immigrants were going to replace the native population. He also said they should not accept becoming a minority in their native lands.