Has Twitter gone too far in its attempt to clean up harassment and hate speech from its platform? It depends on which side of the fence you’re on. On Wednesday, BBC News and USA Today were the first media outlets to report that Twitter had suspended the accounts of several alt-right figures. The alt-right, a loose online affiliation of right-wing conservatives, reactionaries, and other anti-establishment types, has come under attack for promoting harassment, hate speech and bullying. The group’s trolling tactics are said to have spread fringe ideas to the mainstream and driven white-male identity politics into the heart of American political discourse. Many democrats believe the alt-right played a role in determining the outcome of the 2016 election.
This is the second time in a week that Twitter has launched a campaign to clean up its social media platform. Twitter hasn’t revealed why it suspended the alt-right accounts, and further information is scarce at this time. USA Today said Twitter suspended the accounts of four high-profile figures, including the leader of a white nationalist think tank. The question needs to be asked: Is this an attempt by Twitter to rid the platform of abusive behavior, or is it the Left’s way of fighting back after President-elect Trump appointed Stephen Bannon, a man associated with the alt-right, as his chief strategist? The alt-right’s most controversial figures are calling Twitter’s action the “Great Purge” and a form of corporate Stalinism. But what does the rest of America think?