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Twitter bans Milo for good, finally. But what about his goons?

Milo Yiannopoulos: A martyr, in his own mind
Milo Yiannopoulos: A martyr, in his own mind

So Twitter has finally given Milo Yiannopoulos the boot — apparently for good — after the Breitbart “journalist” gleefully participated in, and egged on, a vicious campaign of racist abuse directed at Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones on Twitter earlier this week.

This wasn’t the first time that Milo, formerly known as @Nero, used his Twitter platform — at the time of his suspension he had 338,000 followers — to attack and abuse a popular scapegoat (or someone who merely mocked him online). It wasn’t even the worst example of his bullying.

What made the difference this time? Leslie Jones, who has a bit of a Twitter following herself, refused to stay silent in the face of the abuse she was getting, a move that no doubt increased the amount of harassment sent her way, but one that also caught the attention of the media. And so Milo finally got the ban he has so long deserved.

But what about all those others who participated in the abuse? And the rest of those who’ve turned the Twitter platform into one of the Internet’s most effective enablers of bullying and abuse?

In a statement, Twitter said it was reacting to “an uptick in the number of accounts violating [Twitter’s] policies” on abuse. But as the folks who run Twitter know all too well, the campaign against Jones, as utterly vicious as it was, wasn’t some kind of weird aberration.

It’s the sort of thing that happens every single day on Twitter to countless non-famous people — with women, and people of color, and LGBT folks, and Jews, and Muslims (basically anyone who is not a cis, white, straight, non-Jewish, non-Muslim man) being favorite targets.

Twitter also says that it will try to do better when it comes to abuse. “We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behavior on Twitter,” the company said in its statement.

We agree. We are continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to better allow us to identify and take faster action on abuse as it’s happening and prevent repeat offenders. We have been in the process of reviewing our hateful conduct policy to prohibit additional types of abusive behavior and allow more types of reporting, with the goal of reducing the burden on the person being targeted. We’ll provide more details on those changes in the coming weeks.

This is good news. At least if it’s something more than hot air. Twitter desperately needs better policies to deal with abuse. But better policies won’t mean much if they’re not enforced. Twitter already has rules that, if enforced, would go a long way towards dealing with the abuse on the platform. But they’re simply not enforced.

Right now I don’t even bother reporting Tweets like this, because Twitter typically does nothing about them.

https://twitter.com/Bobcat665/status/735282887965085697

And even when someone does get booted off Twitter for abuse, they often return under a new name — and though this is in direct violation of Twitter’s rules, the ban evaders are so seldom punished for this violation that most don’t even bother to pretend to be anyone other than they are.

Longtime readers here will remember the saga of @JudgyBitch1 and her adventures in ban evasion.

Meanwhile, babyfaced white supremacist Matt Forney’s original account (@realMattForney) was banned some time ago; he returned as @basedMattForney. When this ban evading account was also banned, he got around this ban by starting up yet another ban evading account, under the name @oneMattForney, and did his best to round up as many of his old followers as possible.

https://twitter.com/onemattforney/status/753087810006085634

A few days later, Twitter unbanned his @basedMattForney account.

And here’s yet another banned Twitterer boasting about their success in ban evasion from a new account:

https://twitter.com/_AltRight_Anew/status/755643864036339716

And then there are all the accounts set up for no other reason than to abuse people. Like this person, who set up a new account just so they could post a single rude Tweet to me:

femborg

In case you’re wondering, the one person this Twitter account follows is, yes Donald Trump.

And then there’s this guy, also with an egg avatar, and a whopping three followers, who has spewed forth hundreds of nasty tweets directed mostly at feminists.

Here are several he sent to me, which I’ve lightly censored:

stranger1

And some he’s sent to others.

stbig1 stbig2

So, yeah. Twitter is rotten with accounts like these, set up to do little more than harass. And if they ever get banned, it only takes a few minutes to set up another one.

Milo used his vast number of Twitter followers as a personal army. But you don’t need a lot of followers to do a lot of damage on Twitter. All you really need is an email address and a willingness to do harm.

It’s good that Twitter took down one of the platforms most vicious ringleaders of abuse. But unless Twitter can deal with the small-time goons, with their anime avatars and egg accounts, as well, it will remain one of the Internet’s most effective tools for harassment and abuse.

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pitshade
pitshade
5 years ago

We have been in the process of reviewing our hateful conduct policy

Sounds like their conduct policy is hateful enough already.

Gert
Gert
5 years ago

Pinching myself: is this a dream? Nope: it’s dream a come true!

Finally, one of the most Horrible People on the Altinkerwebs thrown off of his favourite platform for spitting out vile hatred and bile…

That must hurt at least a little and you deserve every morsel of that self-inflicted pain, Milo!

Best bit of news of an otherwise awful week!

Ouroboros13
5 years ago

So many rotten eggs in the basket.

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo
weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo
5 years ago

Yes, trolls will sock, but if Twitter permanently banned any account violating the tos, all but the most dedicated will eventually tire of creating new sock accounts. It seems like a big part of Twitter’s problem is that it’s inconsistent with its disciplinary measures. Anyone with a high school level knowledge of psychology knows that this inconsistency is an ineffective way to reinforce the desired behavior.

Seshia
Seshia
5 years ago

I really wish this meant something other than a talking point for Milo and a chance for Twitter to pat itself on the back.

Until we start counter-brigading to drown out the mysoginistic hate speech, and get it to 10 positive things for every 1 negative, I don’t see this changing. Why is the most powerful communicative tool and ground equalizer in existence mostly used for meaningless hatred?

makroth
makroth
5 years ago

I really wish there was a report option that said: ”Ban evasion” or something similar.

Ouroboros13
5 years ago

BTW Kristi Winters made a new video. She reads from a 2012 article about Internet abuse authored by none other than Milo himself. The irony is rich.

Pendraeg
Pendraeg
5 years ago

Not to support Milo or any of his followers, the ban is well deserved and long overdue. Buuuuut in Twitter’s defense, chasing down socks and checking on every reported tweet is also a colossal task. They do need to do better about it and be more consistent but at the same time I believe the attitude is that if they ban anyone who is reported then no one will use the site and taking time to fully investigate every report is cost prohibitive.

It’s not a great policy on their part by any means, but the lackluster response they have to such abuse can be understandable.

rick
rick
5 years ago

Of course #freeMilo is trending among Milo’s goof fans. These rightists regularly whine about the “spoiled entitlement” of millennials/feminists, yet who cries the loudest when their bad behaviour is punished? They love using terms like “special snowflake”, “cry bully”, and “playing the victim” derisively against others, but never seem to realize how these terms actually define their own conduct online.

Silent Spring
Silent Spring
5 years ago

I’m not that familiar with Twitter’s user interface as I don’t use it myself so forgive my ignorance, but how do these guys keep dodging bans? Doesn’t Twitter block your ip address when you’re banned?

Gert
Gert
5 years ago

An interesting find (via wonkette,. Milo calling for a ‘bolder form of censorship’ to curb internet abuse:

http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/yiannopoulos/3359/the-internet-is-turning-us-all-into-sociopaths/

Still a kernel of decency left 4 years ago, Nero?

Pendraeg
Pendraeg
5 years ago

@Silent Spring Here’s Twitters reason for not going for IP bans, and they do have a bit of a point with a site that is used from mobile devices as often as theirs.

IP blocking is generally ineffective at stopping unwanted behavior, and may falsely prevent legitimate users from accessing our service.

IP addresses are commonly shared by many users in a variety of locations, meaning that blocking a single IP may prevent a large number of unconnected users from logging in to Twitter. In addition, IP addresses are easy to change and blocks can be easily circumvented by logging in from a different location, a third-party service, or one of many free websites or applications.

EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

@Gert:
That’s an amazing article. Thanks for linking it. It’s hard to believe that Yiannopoulos wrote it.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ EJ

It’s hard to believe that Yiannopoulos wrote it.

Maybe Melania Trump wrote it?

J^3 (@JoeKlemmer)
J^3 (@JoeKlemmer)
5 years ago

Side note:

A few days later, Twitter unbanned his @basedMattForney account.

Dave, this is a bit ambiguous. It seems like you meant to reference his @oneMattForney account. At least that’s how it reads to me.

leftwingfox
leftwingfox
5 years ago

@Gert: Priceless.

Gert
Gert
5 years ago

@EJ:

Welcome (thank wonkette, not me).

Milo’s defence against accusations of racism:

“I keep getting accused of being a white supremacist. But if that’s the case, I must be the first black-dick-sucking white supremacist in history.”

Wrong again, Milo. Historically racists and white supremacists have engaged in ‘interacial’ sex whenever the mood took them. See history of colonialism/imperialism.

‘I suck my black stud’s dick’ doesn’t absolve you from anything. But I do question the taste in men of anyone who wants to be intimate with you…

Scildfreja
Scildfreja
5 years ago

I wonder if Twitter can block by MAC address? Pipe dream, obviously, but wouldn’t that be awesome? Want to start a new sock? Buy a new phone/laptop, jerk. I imagine there are security concerns to that that I’m not thinking about, but the idea seems a lot more effective than what we have now.

aqua
aqua
5 years ago

@David Futrelle

Dear David you absolutely should report tweets like this ‘@DavidFutrelle I look forward to dumping a wagon-load of manure on your grave when you die of heart disease, you fat, snivelling fuck.’

If we ALL do then Twitter has to clean up further and introduce a no tolerance policy.

Not feeding the trolls is no longer an option. Modern trolls arent naughty contrarians but actually evil, a word I dont use lightly.

I worry for you David and its a myth that online activity doesnt translate to physical events.
Jo Cox was targeted online and had approached police prior to her murder.

The notion we shouldnt suppress ‘free speech’ is as you know a manipulation by the very arseholes who suppress everyone elses through fear, despair and horror.
‘Dont feed the trolls’ is not effective in the face of this psychosis – it emboldens them.
Like evil toddlers they are looking for, and testing boundaries.

Please reconsider for your own sake and the larger picture.

XX Aqua

Jamesworkshop
Jamesworkshop
5 years ago

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/07/20/twitter-rule-always-punch-down/

While I agree overall with the piece, for now, it’s time to celebrate.

http://i.imgur.com/v54tgWz.gif

Telling her to suffer in silence, is done only to avoid disciplinary actions.
She talked back and this scares them.
Bullies only respect power, ‘playing the victim’ is no different from a schoolyard bully calling someone a ‘Snitch’.

Pendraeg
Pendraeg
5 years ago

@Scildfreja It’s an interesting idea but not totally practical since then someone can just use a friends phone or device. Plus lots of families share devices and if one person in a family gets banned that would mean everyone is and it would also result in public devices, for example library PC’s being banned as well.

Scildfreja
Scildfreja
5 years ago

@Pendraeg, yeah, it isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot more accurate and useful than ban-by-IP. All of the issues you bring up would also apply to a ban-by-IP method as well, they’re more due to the nature of the interwebs and how we use them. Banning by MAC would at least prevent people from evading an IP ban by going through an anonymizer service.

It’s a tricky pickle!

Gert
Gert
5 years ago

@Scildfreja:

What’s a MAC ban?

Sorry, stuck in the 90ies, IT-wise…

Pendraeg
Pendraeg
5 years ago

@Scildfreja Oh absolutely! MAC banning could be part of the eventual solution. I’m just saying it’s not an easy fix to deal with this sort of thing. To a degree I empathize with Twitter on this, though I will also agree they need to vastly improve their methods and practices from where they’re at right now. It’s just not a simple “well ban people and that will take care of it” situation like a lot of people think.

repentantphonebooth
5 years ago

#freemilo isn’t trending, but if you go to the hashtag it gets a bazillion tweets. Twitter is serious- no milo. And they gave milo lovers a nice room to scream to each other in. And, of course, continue to post racist things about Jones. Excuse me while I go report some things.

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