Amid new spate of racist tweets, Twitter continues to struggle with policing hate speech

Posted July 27

Actress Leslie Jones left Twitter amid a flurry of racist attacks on her. After public outcry online, the platform finally banned a well-known troll believed to be encouraging the attacks. (Deseret Photo)

"I feel like I'm in a personal hell. I didn't do anything to deserve this. It's just too much. It shouldn't be like this. So hurt right now."

That was one of the last tweets "Ghostbusters" actress Leslie Jones posted before announcing she was quitting Twitter amid a flurry of racist attacks on her.

A few days of public outcry later, Twitter has permanently banned the account it believes to be largely responsible for the racist onslaught against Jones. Breitbart conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos, who called the move "cowardly" and a threat to free speech.

This is the latest in a tough few months for Twitter, which has seen other high-profile cases of racist profiling earn them bad press. Just last month, New York Times writer Jonathan Weisman penned an extensive column about the anti-semitic attacks against him that eventually drove him off the platform.

Yet, as Vox reported, the problem of hate speech seems to be more unique to Twitter than to other social platforms.

"While other sites make it relatively easy to report and take action against harassment — just look at how quickly Instagram reportedly jumped to protect Taylor Swift from snake emoji following the massive blowup between her and the Kardashian clan over the weekend — Twitter is notoriously slow to act in any way," Vox reported.

Twitter's banning of Yiannopoulos is somewhat historic for a platform that is reticent to alienate its audience with the threat of possible banishment. But it seems possible that Twitter is now looking seriously at tinkering with its abuse reporting system and separating, once and for all, hate speech from free speech.

"Hopefully, the move will also put some much-needed distance between two sides of an ongoing and escalating culture war," Vox reported, "and might even make it harder for these battles to be waged through harassment."


Twitter: ChandraMJohnson


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