WASHINGTON — On Thursday evening, Twitter “permanently suspended” the account of David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke was suspended for repeatedly violating the online platform’s rules against hateful conduct and tweeting "harmful links."
This suspension reverses the company’s position after the social network had defended its decision to continue to allow Duke to use its platform. Last summer, Free Press and its Change the Terms Coalition partners launched an online campaign to #StopRacistTwitter and staged protests outside Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.
Free Press Co-CEO and Change the Terms Co-Founder Jessica J. González made the following statement:
“We're encouraged that Twitter is starting to step up and join the fight against the spread of hate and disinformation online. The company still has a long way to go to rid racism and bigotry from its network, but Thursday’s response shows that its executives are beginning to take this more seriously.
“Meanwhile, executives at Facebook continue to fall far short on their commitment to civil and human rights. For instance, one can still find David Duke pages and accounts on the social network. Indeed, in 2019 the authors of Facebook’s independent civil rights audit urged the company to expand its policies ‘to prohibit content which expressly praises, supports, or represents white nationalist or separatist ideology.’ Facebook has yet to make those policy changes.
“Many social media companies are responding to the growing frustration of civil rights groups, advertisers, members of Congress, and even their own employees. The Change the Terms coalition, the #StopHateForProfit campaign and many other activists and tech leaders have been demanding changes for years. It’s good to see Twitter finally responding, but more needs to be done — for example, white nationalist Richard Spencer still has an account.
“Twitter and other platforms can start by adopting the corporate model policies recommended by Change the Terms. We need systemic reforms like these to systemic and organized hate online.”