Milo Yiannopoulos, like many conservative talking heads and figures before him, likes to tout the line that free speech is code for saying offensive remarks and not get checked for it. On Twitter, racist comments are typically the order of the day as evidenced by the online attacks Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones recently faced and the social network banned Yiannopoulos for being the ringleader of the trolls.
Jones, who also has a starring role as part of the Saturday Night Live ensemble, has endured a barrage of nasty comments since the release of the Ghostbusters reboot last Friday. Despite trying to take the high road several times and pleading with her supporters to help her combat the racist trolls, Jones left the social media network by saying she was in tears. Twitter, which has a terms of service agreement for users that has been hardly enforced, finally stepped up and zeroed in on Yiannopoulos’ @Nero account on Tuesday.
From the NYT:
The ban against Mr. Yiannopoulos, a technology editor at the conservative news site Breitbart and known by his Twitter handle, @Nero, follows a campaign of prolonged abuse against Leslie Jones, a comedian and co-star of the recently released “Ghostbusters” movie. The film and its stars have come under fire from various parts of the internet for months, after it was first revealed that the reboot of the 1984 film would feature an all-female cast.
Ms. Jones in particular has borne the brunt of the online abuse in recent days, especially since the release of “Ghostbusters” in the United States on Friday. Hundreds of anonymous Twitter commenters hurled racist and sexist remarks at the star’s Twitter account, rallied and directed by Mr. Yiannopoulos this week. The news media picked up on the abuse after Ms. Jones began retweeting screenshots of the litany of comments sent to her over the past few days.
On Monday evening, Ms. Jones quit using Twitter with a final message of exasperation after days of near-nonstop abuse. “I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart,” Ms. Jones tweeted. “All this cause I did a movie.”
In a statement, a Twitter spokesman said: “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.”
Naturally, Yiannopoulos whined about the ban and called it the “end of Twitter” and a violation of free speech. Twitter has not yet addressed the online abuse on a smaller scale, but the evidence is out there that racist and sexist remarks are often made under the veil of jokes, insults, and expression.
Photo: By OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS – File:Milo Yiannopoulos, Journalist, Broadcaster and Entrepreneur-1441 (8961808556).jpg, originally from , CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45648743