Milo Yiannopoulos Has Been Permanently Banned From Twitter

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It seems after a succession of suspensions, conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos has been permanently banned from Twitter.

I’m probably a million miles away from Milo Yiannopoulos’s politics and rhetoric. He’s not actually someone whose output I follow or go out of my way to keep an eye on. His chosen role of provocateur has amused me on occasion but has also had me scratching my head on others. However, that’s irrelevant given free speech is also there for the opinions of people you don’t agree with. In fact, it can never truly be ‘free’ otherwise.

In the wake of the release of the Ghostbusters reboot this week, its star Leslie Jones has been making the headlines for some disappointing reasons. According to reports, she has received a large amount of online abuse since the movie hit cinema screens – some of which was racist. This has unfortunately led to her calling time on her Twitter experience.

I’ll always be against abuse and harassment on social media (or anywhere) and I think the people responsible for it should be held accountable.

However, too often I find the line between robust criticism and outright abuse is intentionally blurred by ‘professional victims’ who wish to detract from the issues at hand. In this case, Leslie did receive the horrible abuse she claimed to have received of course, but I also think there has been some unhelpful line blurring taking place too where Milo’s involvement is concerned.

Now, unless I’ve missed something, or the reporting on this has been incredibly selective (see UPDATE below), Milo appears to be guilty only of criticising Leslie Jones. Below is the exchange that appears to have got him pinched by the Twitter police:

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Also, as far as I can see, Milo never directly calls for any action, negative or otherwise on the behalf of his followers. We can probably cut Leslie some slack for her response to Milo given the state of mind created by the barrage of horrible abuse she did actually receive, but the actions of Twitter appear to be excessive.

I don’t buy the argument that by drawing attention to a tweet you are encouraging harassment. People need to understand that Twitter is a global, publicly accessible forum with a seemingly limitless reach. Twitter’s entire raison d’être is to encourage engagement with your words and to amplify them. It would make no sense to include ‘retweet’ and ‘quote tweet’ functions otherwise. In fact, what is Twitter without these things?

Every time you decide to put something out on Twitter you are openly inviting the response of the entire online world. Think of it as scrawling your thoughts on a sandwich board and taking a stroll around a busy park. Luckily, Twitter affords you the privilege to mute, block, report, respond or to log out.

Even if Leslie Jones is 100% right about everything she has ever said ever, people must still be allowed to disagree with her or have differing opinions without being ‘reported’.

I’ve had my own unfortunate history with unjust Twitter suspensions which you can read about in The Independent. I can’t help but think suspension and banning is a mostly automated process which kicks into action based on the amount of times other users report you. If that’s the case, it’s an incredibly subjective and inadequate system

This is not a defence of Milo and all his controversial views, but a defence of free, open discussion.

We appear to be creating an online environment where far-lefty sentiment must be the status quo, lest you be pilled on as a pariah. To be anti-immigration, critical of Islam or questioning of the Black Lives Matter movement is to invite a smear carnival to your door. Terms such as ‘right-wing’, ‘conservative’, ‘white male’ or ‘neocon’ have become almost universally accepted as pejoratives, serving purely as thought terminating clichés. This is damaging to our political discourse and I say all this as a staunch lefty, vegetarian liberal.

Twitter can do what they want with their platform I suppose. It isn’t a public arena in the true sense, it’s a private company. However, given that Twitter has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to protecting freedom of expression it would appear that they are now failing to uphold this core principle of open discourse.

It is entirely irrelevant whether you ‘like’ or ‘agree’ with Milo. Instead, you should consider that if you claim the right to hold unpopular opinions yourself, it’s essential that you extend that right to everyone else. Otherwise one day, they’ll probably come for you too.

UPDATE 20 July 2016

Since releasing this blog a number of Twitter users have brought some extra information to my attention that wasn’t included in the mainstream media reporting (and still isn’t at the time of writing this). Apparently, Milo was guilty of fabricating, or at least distributing the below screenshots in Leslie Jones’s name:

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Now, I appreciate I’m entering dodgy territory by using screenshots that I can’t directly authenticate to make a point about using doctored screenshots, but I’ve had enough independent corroboration for me to conclude that Milo did indeed amplify these fake tweets in Leslie Jones’s name. You can also see them archived here. And below, we have Milo seemingly implying he is behind them.

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Given the entirely over the top content of the tweets, it’s my own view that these were intended as a poor attempt at parody, rather than a genuine effort to defame. However it’s still an entirely irresponsible and churlish thing to do. If Milo is ‘your guy’, you have to question the objectivity and integrity of a person who thinks that this is a good idea. I think he should apologise for it.

Whether or not this is what led to the ban is unclear, as Twitter did not explicitly reference it in their reasoning. I’m also not sure whether their terms and conditions cover misrepresentation. If it did, we would have no regressive leftists operating on Twitter.

Is this poor behaviour though? I think so. Would I have someone banned for it though? Probably not. I don’t think the answer to bad use of free speech should be less speech or more restrictions.

Maybe it’s the staunch liberal and free speech advocate in me, but I can’t ever seem to get on board with banning people for words.

Second UPDATE 20 July 2016:

Breitbart have published some authentic tweets from Jones which they claim to be racist. It’s worth pointing out that Yiannopoulos is the editor at Breitbart, but you should make up your own mind about the tweets.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

59 comments

  • I don’t see how this has anything to do with free speech? You don’t have a right to be on twitter. Milo has many more outlets in which he can give his views.

    Also, you create a false binary choice of Milo or far lefty views (a phrase which suggests your politics is far more inline than Milo than you suppose otherwise). In between Milo and the far left there is a moderate probably 90% of the rest of us.

    I don’t know if it was a good thing for twitter to ban him or not but at the end of the day it’s their platform. I have no freedom to write articles for breitbart Milo has no right to write on twitter.

    IF as you say right wing views are being censored on twitter then eventually a counter social network be set up and very popular, one which has no stipulations on speech, that’s the free market.

    • Stephen Knight

      I don’t see how this has anything to do with free speech?

      Because, as stated in the article – Twitter claim they are committed to protecting free speech. Banning people for things such as this seems to go against the spirit of free speech to say the least.

      Also, you create a false binary choice of Milo or far lefty views (a phrase which suggests your politics is far more inline than Milo than you suppose otherwise). In between Milo and the far left there is a moderate probably 90% of the rest of us.

      You’ve imagined this ‘binary of choice’. My article is calling for more open, diverse opinion which would include political views spanning the spectrum. Also, how does using ‘far-lefty’ suggest that? I speak in similar terms about ‘far-right’. The ‘far’ part is the key word here.

      I don’t know if it was a good thing for twitter to ban him or not but at the end of the day it’s their platform. I have no freedom to write articles for breitbart Milo has no right to write on twitter.

      I can only assume you didn’t read all of my article.

      • “We appear to be creating an online environment where far-lefty sentiment must be the status quo. To be anti-immigration, critical of Islam”

        That to me suggests you think anyone not critical of Islam is a far lefty. Lets not forget until Maajid got involved Cameron would not criticise Islam (Bush was much the same as Douglass Murray wrote in Islamophillia). Interesting that you also complain about right-wing as a pejorative and then use far-lefty in much the same manor

        Maybe Twitter have made a mistake in banning him, doing this sort of stuff to him often makes him more popular I dont really care either way. But I will defend twitter’s right to see fit how their platform is used just as much as I would defend Milo’s right to say what ever he wants in his own platforms.

        Free speech works both ways. If people are being abused on twitter (Im not suggesting milo was being abusive but it it’s twitter’s view) then people will leave and so we have lost those opinions.

        • Stephen Knight

          “That to me suggests you think anyone not critical of Islam is a far lefty”

          No, I was suggesting the mainstream/online discourse is disproportionately far-left. And not ‘anyone’ but certainly the bulk of those who wish to discount Islam from bad deeds tend to be on the left. You only have to speak to an ex-Muslim for 5 minutes to hear how they feel betrayed by their fellow lefties. Did I mention I’m a lefty myself? As you seem hung up on this term as though I’m using it as an insult.

          Interesting that you also complain about right-wing as a pejorative and then use far-lefty in much the same manor

          Again. It’s the ‘far’ part that is important and which you seem committed to ignorning. Did you miss the part where I confirmed *myself* as left-wing? If I’d moaned that the term ‘far-right’ is being used as a pejorative, you’d have a point. But I didn’t. So you don’t. I said ‘right-wing’. I’m against the *far* aspect of either left-wing or right-wing politics as it tends to imply extreme views.

          If people are being abused on twitter (Im not suggesting milo was being abusive but it it’s twitter’s view) then people will leave and so we have lost those opinions.

          I think I made it clear abuse is wrong and those guilty should be held to account. It’s just that Milo doesn’t actually appear to be guilty of abuse in this instance.

          • Maybe twitter have long been looking for an excuse to ban Milo, the cumulative effect of him shitting all over the twitterverse just got so much this was the last straw.

            Twitter have decided Milo is bad for business so he is gone. It is that simple. I dont see any huge conspiracy to erase right wing views from twitter.

  • “Also, as far as I can see, Milo never directly calls for any action, negative or otherwise on the behalf of his followers.”

    No, and that is how Milo had been able to get away with it thus far. He tries to make it vague, although sometimes he will go a little bit over and just call a journalist he disagrees with a pedophile. Evidence? Bah, who needs that when he can just tell it to his thousands of followers then hide like a coward behind cries free speech when he is challenged on it.

    He tries to remain in that area of not explicitly calling for violence. Now given that is followers are not of the most rational and fair minded type, what exactly are the chances that they won’t take it as some kind of call for extreme action? It does thread some dangerous ground but I am not going to shed any tears for the man who thought losing his twitter verification tag was an attack on his free speech rights (which it isn’t) and that somehow this was a fair question to inquire about with the White House.

    • Stephen Knight

      I’m not familiar with his past behaviour – I’m talking about this particular one incident. I’m also not attempting a defence of his character.

      • I am not saying you are. I am pointing out that he does indeed have a past history which is relevant here. If they finally banned him over what happened with Leslie Jones, it doesn’t really make a big difference to me in the grand scheme of things.

        Also, I should point out that the whole ‘ Luckily, Twitter affords you the privilege to mute, block, report, respond or to log out.’ is not a solution as any person determined to harass can just as easily create another account to continue the harassment ad infintium as twitter does not do IP blocks. It does, in essence, make his ban effectively useless but that twitter did it shows some support on their part to all the people who have been subject to his lies and harassment.

        • There are probably flaws in these proposals I’m missing but why can’t twitter :

          1) Create a filter switch to mute tweets from accounts created with a week, month.. whatever.

          2) Stop tweets except for those accounts you are following and those following you (in conjunction with 1)

          I must admit though that I’m mystified as to why people take on-line insults from complete strangers seriously.
          Credible threats are a different matter. Everybody should be aware they’re not untraceable when they post stuff on the internet.

          I remember this from 2011. Two “neds” from Dundee were feeling left out after watching the riots in England. They were urging people to meet and initiate a riot in Dundee. The police turned up at their door…. 4 years in jail.
          ==============================================================================
          “Dundee teenagers locked up for Facebook riot threats
          12 December 2011

          Two teenagers who used Facebook to try to start a riot in a Scottish city have been locked up for three years each.
          Shawn Divin, 16, and Jordan McGinley, 18, were administrators of a Facebook page called “Riot in the toon” which urged people to “kill some daftys”.
          The Dundee riot page was published during the summer’s unrest in England.
          Divin, who was described as an inmate at Polmont youth offenders institute, and McGinley, from Dundee, had earlier pleaded guilty to breaching the peace.
          Sheriff Elizabeth Munro sentenced Divin to a total of four years and three months, which included one year for breaching a previous probation order and three months for breaching his bail by inciting riots.”
          ===============================================================================

  • Australopitpithecus

    Thanks Stephen for a clear and well-balanced blog. I find Milo mostly odious and annoying. It is as much his playfully camp affectation as his actual thoughts for me. He certainly gets very close to misogyny often. He courts the line, the edge. But he uses a kind of “Gish-gallop”, fast-talking, cherry-picking, never-really-back-anything-up & nod-and-a-wink we-all-really-know-the-truth-deep-down kind of style that just rubs me the wrong way. It is reminiscent of “pre-suppositional apologetics” at times. But I digress.

    Knowing how “seemingly” targeted attacks have been used to shut you down on Twitter before I have to agree that Twitter’s treatment of Milo seems to fit that pattern. I won’t miss him. But this is definitely not how you protect free speech.

    • Close? I am not sure what you consider close. He said women have inferior brains to men so can’t do science. He said this to a female biologist and geneticist on TV while he has actually no actual degrees in science at all. In fact, he dropped out of university twice.

      He also said “Most of the reason I went gay is so I didn’t have to deal with nutty broads. Imagine how much worse they’re going to get when the passive aggressive manipulation tactics stop working because the guy can get himself off with a thinner, hotter robot any time he wants to. They’re going to go mental.”

  • You can’t view this in isolation, Yiannopoulis knows his followers are mostly trolls he’s seen the results of his dog whistle calls to action in the past, he has never discouraged or criticised his followers for attacking people. He knew exactly what would happen once he called out Leslie Jones. This is far from the first time this has happened and not even the most vicious example, check out this post from a lesser know victim of Yiannopoulis’s tactics so show just how bad it gets for people he decides to call out.
    http://femfreq.tumblr.com/post/109319269825/one-week-of-harassment-on-twitter

    • Australopithecus

      Yes Milo loves to push people’s buttons. But it is surely a problematic precedent to set if you can hold Twitter users responsible for what their “followers” do. I can think of a very high profile person running for PUSA who says terrible things, lies openly and knows that this probably incites his followers to acts of racism, misogyny and maybe even violence. But Twitter haven’t banned him that I know of? I disagree with almost everything that Milo says and I have yet to see him genuinely challenged by someone who is not in awe of his OTT routine. But he can surely only be responsible for his own actions. If Twitter wants to go after his followers, so be it. Let them have at it. But to ban Milo just looks like posturing to me.

      (p.s. I amused to think that many of the people who love Milo’s misogyny probably live in a permenant and debilitating state of cognitive dissonance over the fact that he is an out and proud homosexual.)

      • I agree a precedent has been set but I think it’s a good precedent not a bad one. While Trump is clearly also an arsehole I don’t think he deliberately coordinates attacks in the same way as Yiannopoulis. Still Twitter shouldn’t be shy of acting on Trump if he is oversteps the mark.

    • I don’t think Anita Sarkesian is a fair judge in these matters. She is part of a group of regressive left bloggers who have either bullied and harassed women themselves, or have enabled on-line mobs to do so. I view Milo and the likes of Anita on both sides of the drama coin.

      Anyway, I think Twitter’s problem is, and Stephen touches upon this, is that it is constrained and dictated to by a regressive left “council”. This means, certain abusers such as Islamists, those who issue death threats against, say, Katie Hopkins, those who whip up hate against progressive or ex-Muslims, tend to get off rather lightly. People who raise issues about certain topics, such as anti-liberal third-wave feminists, Islamists, some of the more violent BLM activists, are often attacked or threatened.

      Somebody formerly of FreeThoughtBlogs, now of The Orbit, used their position to harass me on (and briefly off) Twitter. I did eventually get an apology from Twitter, although that it quite a rare achievement I gather. No action was taken against them.

      Interestingly, today’s events take place a couple of days after a GQ columnist (Bethlehem Shoals) apologised for issuing a death threat against a mother of dead soldier, who was speaking at that Republican convention. Very little opprobrium was directed at him from the SJWs and regressive left. It seems a bit of a lottery as to when the SJWs and the Twitter council decide to take action, and it depends on who the target is.

  • Some of the “criticism” Jones was getting, just so we’re clear on the level of “debate” coming from Milo’s following.

    https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/755180325840556032
    https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/755161629793345536
    https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/755182965060169728

    • Stephen Knight

      I clearly didn’t deny horrible abuse was received. Nor did I try to imply it constitutes ‘criticism’.
      It’s whether or not you feel Milo should be held responsible for the words of others. Also, how have you established they follow Milo?

      • Actually, no, you are taking this incident and putting it into a vacuum. This is more about the state of harassment on twitter, its failure to respond to it especially to a person who on multiple occasions has been suspended, and violation of its terms of service.

        Twitter has acknowledge yet again the problem of harassment and has said in the past 48 hours they noticed an increase of it and has taken appropriate action in suspending other accounts. As to what constitutes harassment, that can be up for opinion however and as the platform is property of twitter, they are within their rights to say what qualifies as harassment and the community can respond if they so choose either by trying to convincing them otherwise or leaving twitter.

        If you want to check if those people follow Milo, that would normally be easy by checking his account. Unfortunately you can’t currently since his account is suspended but if you want to have a taste of what people think is a good basis for bringing him back, check out the hashtag of #FreeMilo

      • To be clear, my comment wasn’t directed at you personally but at the general notion that abuse is defensible as a “point of view”. Check the #freeMilo hashtag to see plentiful examples of this take.

        I can’t connect each and every one of the racist tweeters to Milo, but I’d have to be lacking in perception not to see a relationship. The first of the tweets I posted is from a suspended account, so I can’t check that. The second tweeter, @nohilary, is using #freeMilo and other related hashtags eg. #VapesOutForMilo (whatever fresh hell that’s all about). The third tweeter is part-bot and not a very prolific tweeter. No direct relationship I can see, but they were using the ‘ape’ theme that other Milo supporters were using.

  • You’re probably right it is posturing. But by banning Milo they set an example for how they want discourse to be conduction on their platform.

    I think you can also hold people to account to some extent for the actions of their followers. Just as I would hold Jeremy Corbyn to account for some of the abuse his fellow labour MPs get from his followers. There needs to be condemnation of any abuse.

  • google searches show all 3 account have had interactions with @nero. hard to prove they follow now nero banned.

  • Milo is irrelevent in this issue.
    What is concerning is Twitters process for disabling/deleting user accounts, while claiming to be a beacon for freedom of speech and expression.
    As Steven said, it is almost certainly automated based on an algorithm.

    I think people who operate alternative media (such as this site) should get together and report on Twitters actions in these circumstances, in the hope they will change their policy.

    • That is due to the sheer volume of users. If they don’t use some kind of algorithm, then what you have is nothing because there simply would not enough staff to investigate the claims coming from an average user base that stands currently at 310,000,000. There is actually math you can do these days to figure out how much staff you would need to cover a user base of X size. It won’t be small.

      And because an algorithm s the most effective method for managing a user base of that size but can exercise no human judgement and thus easily circumvented and ripe for abuse, it is by nature flawed. Unless you have some better method to maintain twitter’s status as a free service while being able to check every submitted report for validity, one has to be realistic.

  • I once got banned for spamming, protested and my account was restored. It can be painful losing your followers and history all in a moment. Feels like bereavement specially for active Twitter users.

    Everyone has their own idea of what abuse is and I think Twitter is not going to serve repeated warnings to innocent users.

    The little I knew of Milo, he came across as somebody who on the edges of Twitter rules; stretching their limits. He had it coming, and he probably feels like some martyr of some sort. Won’t miss him, and should he spawn and continue, he’ll get another summary ban

  • I have not followed everything Milo has been up to on Twitter or otherwise. Maybe banning him was the right call at this point. Certainly some of his followers were just asking for banning.

    What I find the most controversial part of this topic is that while @nero is now gone, there are still people celebrating the death of that pakistani woman on Twitter, right now (https://twitter.com/RitaPanahi/status/754235184996679680). The Twitter guidelines are such that just reciting some parts of the Quran or Bible is a breach of them.

    So, how are we going to get these rules applied to them too? I think the rules will never be applied to this kind of hate and glorification of violence.

  • On the system of how bans occur: At least two people on twitter have visited the Twitter offices, for what reason, I have no idea.
    Nicky Campbell. And Vicky Beeching went there numerous times, when she was apparently doing a PhD on “Social media ethics”, which you might imagine should encompass things such as why ban in the first place, as well as how a social media company goes about implementing it. But she did apparently dump the PhD, so may not have covered that module.
    So you could approach both to see if they have any answers in general.

  • You display

    “the exchange that appears to have got him pinched by the Twitter police”

    with no evidence that this was in fact the relevant exchange. If it were, I think the rest of your article follows and I agree with all of it. However, the real cause of the ban may have been something else entirely. For example, @nero seems to have reproduced fake tweets made to look as if they were sent by @Lesdoggg. These fake tweets are even more abusive than @Lesdoggs actual tweets, which themselves are pretty bad. Retweeting these fake tweets is defamatory and certainly sufficient cause to become banned.

    • Stephen Knight

      But those are not the reasons Twitter themselves have provided for the ban, otherwise they would have said so. Also, how many people a day retweet things that aren’t true on Twitter do you think?

      • “otherwise they would have said so”

        Why do you think so? In fact it’s in their interest to stick to generalities; all they’ve said is:

        “our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”

        You seem to be assuming that you have located the specific tweets that triggered the ban, with no evidence. I’m simply pointing out that there are actual, defamatory tweets sent by @nero, that you didn’t mention, that would supply a firmer basis for a ban.

        “how many people a day retweet things that aren’t true on Twitter do you think?”

        I don’t know. Probably a great deal. And many of these are probably also defamatory. And, no doubt, a small subset of these also lead to bans if their target complains. I myself got someone’s account deleted after a single abusive tweet directed at me, and I’m not famous, nor do I fit comfortably into what we probably agree seems to be Twitter’s preferred political pigeonhole.

        If your point is that Twitter is not consistent in enforcing its rules, I’m sure you’re right. But in claiming you know why @nero was banned you are making a claim without evidence and arguing against a straw man.

        • Stephen Knight

          I’ve heard about these faked tweets, but not seen them. How do you know they were in fact ‘faked’ though? I’ve seen and confirmed myself a number of Leslie Jones’s tweets that could easily be categorised as abusive (also encouraging it) and racist.

          • Since I obviously can’t search through @nero now, I can’t show you the faked tweets that he retweeted. Word is that they originated on 4chan. The ones I remember were pretty obviously fake, because although Jones’ output is often racist and abusive, this (faked) abuse used a different style and was anti-gay. Jones’ authentic tweets are just anti-white and say “bitch” at lot.

            I commented myself on Jones’ abuse problem in this attempt at irony:

            https://twitter.com/lpfeed/status/755593786097405952

            So I’m not interested in defending her. My point is about evidence and logic. If you claim to know exactly why @nero was banned, the burden of proof, or at least plausibility, is on you. You have failed to exclude other reasons why he may have been banned, so most of the rest of your argument fails to have any specific relevance. This is true even if no one can supply such a reason.

          • Stephen Knight

            But I’m going by Twitter’s stated reasons for banning him. The burden of proof is actually on you to show how you can read minds and know Twitter are not being sincere.

            You’re speculating whereas I’m going by the best available information

          • Milo is a tech savvy person. His history demonstrates this. He knows full well he, or any one of his followers, can simply use photoshop to make a series of fake tweets then just claim they were deleted. Who is to say except for twitter unless they investigate and then say whether it is true or not, at which point Milo and/or his followers accuse twitter of a conspiracy and so on and who is to say otherwise as you now have cast doubt on twitter being objective. And he, of course, does not discourage this behaviour nor does he have to encourage.

            If you are looking for evidence, you will never, ever find any. He will hide behind the claim of free speech and all you will have is his long standing history of ranting and raving and lying about feminists and his followers following up with abuse and harassment. Call it the Trump Effect, a person who Milo is a big fan of.

        • Stephen Knight

          No, as I pointed out above, Twitter did not say what specific tweets led to the ban. They made a general statement about “abuse”. You claimed to know what the relevant tweets probably were, but supply no evidence.

          I supplied the tweets that Leslie Jones responded to by threatening to report Milo and have his account locked…

          I’m simply pointing out that you are making a claim without evidence. I did not claim to know that Twitter was not sincere in referring to “abuse”.

          You said ‘in fact it’s in their interest to stick to generalities’. How is that a fact? How do you know that is what they are doing? They could also have just ‘generally’ mentioned how ‘misrepresentation’ is also prohibited. But they didn’t

          You admit that you didn’t see the fake tweets, which means that you wrote your article without bothering to look at @nero’s recent timeline.

          Difficult when he has been banned – although I did include them once they were brought to my attention. It’s also worth noting not a single mainstream news outlet (my sources) mentioned these tweets either.

          I simply pointed out the possibility that there were better reasons for the ban than what you assume,

          As you can see from my update, I still don’t think they merit a ban.

          I hate to say this, because I’m firmly on your side in general, but you’re beginning to remind me of religious people who describe lack of faith as an unfounded speculation that god doesn’t exist. My points about evidence and logic couldn’t be simpler.

          It doesn’t matter what I remind you of, it matters whether I can reasonably justify what I’ve wrote. And I can.

  • I think the author makes some very fair and thoughtful points. And we would certainly support the notion that Free Speech must include speech we are not comfortable with. But I do think the error made, as noted by other commenters here, is that Milo’s behavior, and this particular incident, is being looked at in a vacuum. People that know about Milo, know that he does train his followers to attack people he doesn’t like, and, like what happened with Leslie Jones, to the point where they just quit Twitter. That certainly smells of ‘censorship’, just of a different kind.

    Also, I would imagine that the author should understand that a public figure for a particular platform/philosophy doesn’t have to directly and explicitly state the method of attack to their followers in order for those attacks to be understood and carried out. For example, when you have religious leaders telling their followers that ‘X’ is an abomination, or evil, or against God and morality; and then their followers go ahead and carry out assaults on ‘X’, without having been told directly to “Go attack ‘X'”.

    Lastly, yes, Twitter is a public platform. And some suggest that Leslie should be willing to accept negative feedback because, hey, everyone gets negative feedback. Even Milo gets negative feedback.

    But there’s a significant difference. Leslie Jones was being attacked simply for being female, black, and in a movie people had an issue with. She wasn’t out there provoking people.

    Milo, on the other hand, openly and outwardly invites attacks by being a self-proclaimed provocateur. He thrives on conflict, he purposely provokes negativity, as a badge of honor. So I wouldn’t necessarily equate the two (not that the author has. Just that this has been a common talking about this matter).

  • Twitter can do whatever they like, they should just be transparent about their rules so people can choose not to participate ahead of time if they seem unfair.
    They currently do seem unfair. As do facebook’s. We need an alternative to arise.

    • The precision you seek is impossible. Impossible because terms are seldom fully objective descriptors of anything. Even definition of death is debatable. The other reasons is the imprecision is intentional: to give them flexibility or rather admit the inevitable subjectivity into the process

      I really doubt any Twitter user can receive several warnings and suspensions without any clue where they are coming from.

      Milo’s best hope is to stir enough discontent and conversation around his ban but I can assure you outside Twitter, it will fade

  • The left turned into fucking monsters. The way they throw ex-Muslims under the bus is repulsive.

    New atheists and the right-wing are the only people calling out this nonsense and the regressive left will do everything in their power to silence them.

    • But “new atheists” don’t have to resort to trashing people like Leslie Jones. I agree that the regressive left are repulsive, and are just as bad as Islamists, in their attitude to ex-Muslims, and also progressive Muslims like Maajid Nawaz. Remember, it is the likes of CJ Werleman and Nathan Lean who incite hatred and death threats towards these groups.

  • “But I’m going by Twitter’s stated reasons for banning him.”

    No, as I pointed out above, Twitter did not say what specific tweets led to the ban. They made a general statement about “abuse”. You claimed to know what the relevant tweets probably were, but supply no evidence.

    “The burden of proof is actually on you to show how you can read minds and know Twitter are not being sincere.”

    No, I don’t claim to be reading minds. I’m simply pointing out that you are making a claim without evidence. I did not claim to know that Twitter was not sincere in referring to “abuse”.

    “You’re speculating whereas I’m going by the best available information”

    You admit that you didn’t see the fake tweets, which means that you wrote your article without bothering to look at @nero’s recent timeline. You neglected to look at the “best available information”.

    I’m not “speculating” at all. I don’t know exactly which tweets led to the ban. The claim to have a handle on that is yours alone. I simply pointed out the possibility that there were better reasons for the ban than what you assume, without evidence, were the proximate reasons. I hate to say this, because I’m firmly on your side in general, but you’re beginning to remind me of religious people who describe lack of faith as an unfounded speculation that god doesn’t exist. My points about evidence and logic couldn’t be simpler.

  • Sorry, I shouldn’t have implied any criticism by saying that you “wrote your article without bothering to look at @nero’s recent timeline”, because by then you didn’t have access to it. But the only way to put your general points about “blurring the lines” on solid ground would be to look at that and exclude other, more reasonable, triggers for the ban.

  • “guilty only of disagreeing”?? Maybe Milo shouldn’t be banned from Twitter but you can do better than this apologetics. There is a clear difference between disagreement and rhetoric. In the tweet he accuses Leslie of “playing the victim”, seemingly in order to persuade his followers that she is lying to boost her career. This is not disagreement, it’s incitement to prejudice. If he’s such a nice, reasonable guy why does he need to resort to this level of abuse? Was he drunk? Does he have issues? Or is this just the Stephen-approved level of normal discourse in the US in 2016?

    • Stephen Knight

      Take a breath. I’ll address some of your points

      “guilty only of disagreeing”?? Maybe Milo shouldn’t be banned from Twitter…

      Then we agree…I don’t think he should be banned either. That was my point.

      There is a clear difference between disagreement and rhetoric. In the tweet he accuses Leslie of “playing the victim”, seemingly in order to persuade his followers that she is lying to boost her career.

      See, now you have crossed the line into clairvoyance. Unhelpful

      This is not disagreement, it’s incitement to prejudice. If he’s such a nice, reasonable guy why does he need to resort to this level of abuse?

      I never said he was nice nor reasonable. I’m not sure what this is in reference to.

      Or is this just the Stephen-approved level of normal discourse in the US in 2016?

      What does this have to do with the US? I’m not located in the US, and as far as I’m aware Twitter is not subject to the first amendment. Though if it were – Milo wouldn’t be in trouble at all. Not to mention I never engage in, encourage or reward any abuse myself.

  • RE update:

    “Maybe it’s the staunch liberal and free speech advocate in me, but I can’t ever seem to get on board with banning people for words. ”

    Being a staunch liberal comes with responsibility to take the liberalism away of those who abuse it. This is why we have prisons/ASBOs/Restraining orders etc. That is how you preserve liberalism. I realise this can sound counter intuitive.

    As Maajid often says “No idea is above scrutiny, no human above dignity”. I dont know what ideas nero brings to the table but he was attacking the humanity of Leslie.

    Here is Milo defending the very right of bans
    http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/yiannopoulos/3359/the-internet-is-turning-us-all-into-sociopaths/
    “what’s needed now is a bolder form of censure”
    What changed? he realised he could become a far bigger name by being the opportunistic troll

  • mittelsmaerzblog

    I have followed (and been followed by) Milo for a long time, so I will say that I admire his loquacity and testicular fortitude to take on Social Justice Warriors, Islamic appeasers, purveyors of blockbots and pretentious liars and fantasists. That does not mean I agree with him on things like Donald Trump, or that liberalism supports speech codes and censorship.or his attitude to gun control or … and I’ve said so to him a lot and mocked some of his arguments with verve.

    But the calling of Milo as a racist or inciter to racism is very wide of the mark. For some reason, and this revolting idea comes from America, black people cannot be racist and cannot be held responsible for other’s actions whereas white people carry the can for whatever a white person has done wherever and whenever it was done. That women are victims incapable of competing with men and the dread hand of Patriarchy keeps them oppressed. That one’s status as either oppressed (because of skin colour, ethnicity, religion or ideology) or oppressor (whites only need apply) dictates whether your opinions or humanity should be valued or not.

    In that milieu, viewpoints to the right of Trotsky or Marcuse are treated as racist, even if they come from black people or asians or (choose oppressed people here). Epithets to describe black people who don’t participate in this Oppression Olympics include Uncle Tom, nigger, Oreo, coon or whatever. The racist epithets rain down and are ignored unless the target uses those terms back even ironically – then the target is in trouble.

    That Lesley Jones, who is a black millionairess actress and comedian can claim to be a victim when so obviously using racist epithets herself and encouraging dog-piling on other users, is so risible that it barely needs to be addressed, but she kept right on stirring the pot before retiring to the fainting couch. Did Milo provoke? Sort of. But he did not encourage anyone to abuse Jones, but rather encouraged her directly to make a racist fool of herself (she managed that one perfectly well)

    What galls me is not that Milo was banned but that the reasons for suspensions or banning are so arbitrary. There is no consistency and no justice. In the US constitution is a provision that a person’s civil right to a fair and speed trial, a right to face one’s accusers, a right to cross-examine and challenge evidence cannot be abridged by any act of Congress. On Twitter and Facebook, such guarantees are absent in favour of what can only be described as mob rule and arbitrary punishment without any recourse. The political biases are so strong that they chill speech and this ban will only make things even chillier. It is really Kafkaesque on Twitter and getting worse.

    In this sort of atmosphere logic, reason, rationality or open debate are the first things jettisoned when a histrionic or hysterical person claims that such and such a view invades his or her ‘safe space’ a term that I previously encountered when taking my children to kindergarten.

    Be that as it may, today is my last day on Twitter. Some people like to watch Twitter burn, but I have better things to do in my life. I am a nobody and won’t be missed but I’d rather debate on the merits than apologize constantly to emotional infants for my perceived “white male privilege”.

    Oh and Stephen, eat some meat. Your body will thank you for it.

  • on the site you link where it claims she is racist, they are using embedded tweets you can actually click them and go see them on her twitter account

  • I’m guessing Leslie will say she is using the SJW definition of racism, and because she is black, can’t be racist. The actions of Azealia Banks has challenged that central plank in the SJW definition of racism.

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  • Free speech doesn’t include libel. Not only do I agree with Twitter’s choice, I think Leslie would be justified in seeking damages and making Milo suffer a real-world consequence.

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  • What no one is talking about is the fact that most of the criticisms against Leslie Jones was because she was a black person playing the role of a menial worker. How absurd is that? You are not allowed to do that without copping unbelievable abuse?

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