A day after Leslie Jones complained to Twitter that she was being bombarded by racist and offensive tweets, the social media site announced today it had taken action against some users, which appears to include a permanent suspension of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, who also serves as Breitbart’s tech editor.
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"People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter. But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others," Twitter wrote in a statement to ABC News. "Over the past 48 hours in particular, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of accounts violating these policies and have taken enforcement actions against these accounts, ranging from warnings that also require the deletion of Tweets violating our policies to permanent suspension."
Warning: The link in the following sentence contains offensive language.
Breitbart, the conservative news and opinion website, confirmed that Yiannopoulos had been suspended in a report on its website.
In a statement to ABC News, Yiannopoulos denied any wrongdoing.
"I did nothing wrong. Twitter has suspended me without evidence of wrongdoing and without explanation while allowing the most appalling abuses to continue on its platform. This is political, plain and simple. Leslie Jones ain't afraid of no ghost -- but evidently she's allergic to bad reviews," he wrote.
He attacked Twitter as being biased toward certain viewpoints.
"My suspension has made one thing clear -- Twitter doesn't stand for free speech. What they do stand for is a carefully crafted facade of leftist approved ideas, and conservatives that don't stray too far from safe (globalist) ideas. Like so many platforms before them, their efforts to enforce groupthink will be their undoing," he said.
Because Yiannopoulos' account is no longer visible, it was unclear which of his tweets got his account suspended. But Breitbart posted a photo of the suspension notice from Twitter to Yiannopoulos stating that the account had been suspended "for repeated violations of Twitter Rules ... specifically our rules prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals."
"Given that you have previously received repeated warnings for similar violations, your account will not be restored," the message from Twitter concludes.
On her Twitter feed, Jones said she had received a slew of offensive emails from others, some likening her to "apes" and some with obscene photos. First she tried blocking the abusive tweets, then she decided to expose and report them. One of those she said she reported was Yiannopoulos.
@Nero I'm hearing this guy is a columnist how sad. Is this how he gets his readers thru supporting hate? I'm acting like a victim? Nice job— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
But even after fighting back, Jones, 48, announced Tuesday that she was leaving Twitter.
"I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart," the SNL cast member and star of the new "Ghostbusters" movie tweeted. "All this cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the [s---] I got today. Wrong."
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.— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
When asked by ABC News for a response to Yiannopoulos' comments, Twitter referred us back to its statement, which also includes a vow to do more to curb what it called "abusive behavior."
"We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behavior on Twitter. We agree," the statement read. "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."