Technology

Twitter suspends Britain First leaders

Britain First Twitter page Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The Britain First Twitter account and that of its two leaders have been blocked

Twitter has suspended the accounts of two leaders of a British far-right group shortly after revising its rules on hate speech.

Paul Golding, Britain First's leader, and Jayda Fransen, his deputy, can no longer tweet and their past posts no longer appear.

The organisation's official Twitter page has suffered the same fate.

It appears that three of Ms Fransen's posts that President Trump retweeted have gone from his feed as a result.

The messages had featured anti-Muslim videos and proved highly controversial when the American leader shared them in November.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said it had been "wrong for the president to have done this".

Ms Fransen and Mr Golding were arrested earlier this week over separate behaviour relating to Northern Ireland.

Restricted swastikas

Twitter announced in October that it planned to take a tougher stance against hate symbols as well as those who posted messages that glorified or condoned violence.

It has now said that those who express an affiliation with groups that use or celebrate violence to achieve their aims will be permanently suspended.

Hateful imagery - such as the Nazi swastika - can still be posted, but will initially be hidden behind a "sensitive media" warning, that visitors must disable to proceed. However, such content will no longer be allowed on a person's profile page.

Those that featured examples will be asked to remove them. Repeat violators will be banned.

The company said the move would "reduce the amount of abusive behaviour and hateful conduct" on the network.

"If an account's profile information includes a violent threat or multiple slurs, epithets, racist or sexist tropes, incites fear, or reduces someone to less than human, it will be permanently suspended," it explained.

"We plan to develop internal tools to help us identify violating accounts to supplement user reports."

Twitter has promised a more robust system to appeal against decisions, but said that it was still in development.

US bans

The company is not commenting about the action it is taking against individual accounts citing "privacy and security reasons".

That has left it to others to play detective and report who else has been suspended. Many are using the hashtag #twitterpurge to do so.

US accounts that appear to have fallen foul of the new rules include:

  • Jared Taylor, head of American Renaissance, a website that champions "racial difference"
  • Michael Hill and Hunter Wallace - leader and public relations chief, respectively, of the League of the South, which is described as a "hate group" by civil rights campaigners at the Southern Poverty Law Center
  • the American Nazi Party, which had tweeted it was "inevitable that we will be banned" at the weekend
  • the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white supremacist group
  • End Time Paradigm, an account that specialised in anti-Semitic content

Several other members of the so-called alt-right have tweeted that fans should sign up to Gab.ai - a social network that pitches itself as a free speech alternative to Twitter - if they too are suspended.

Generation Identity, a pan-European nationalist group that opened a British branch last month, has also had its UK and Ireland Twitter account suspended.

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