Hear both sides of the debate over free speech on social media
New York (CNN Business)Twitter permanently banned the account of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on Thursday night, after multiple violations of the company’s hateful conduct policy.
The company’s policy forbids accounts that “promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people” on the basis of personal characteristics. Duke, who was the leader of a KKK offshoot from 1974 to 1978, has been routinely condemned for racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia.
It was unclear what specific action warranted Duke’s suspension, but a Twitter spokesperson told CNN that the decision was “in line with our recently-updated guidance on harmful links.”
Twitter (TWTR) announced earlier this week that it would block certain URLs and links that contained hateful content, and stated that “accounts dedicated to sharing content which we block” could be suspended.
For some, however, the decision to ban Duke — who had more than 53,000 followers — was too little, too late. Legal advocacy organization Southern Poverty Law Center, which specializes in litigation against white supremacist groups, called Twitter’s actions as “a step in the right direction,” while also chastising the move as “long overdue.”
“Twitter, and other social media companies and message boards, still have a lot of work to do to clean up their platforms and stop the spread of hateful ideologies and propaganda,” the nonprofit said in a statement.
The company’s decision comes more than a month after YouTube banned Duke from their platform, alongside accounts of other white supremacists.
Twitter has suspended other accounts in recent months for hateful or misleading content. Far-right British columnist Katie Hopkins was permanently suspended in June. Earlier this week, the platform temporarily restricted Donald Trump Jr after he posted a video promoting false claims about the coronavirus.
— CNN Business’ Oliver Darcy contributed to this report
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