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Very Real Social Media Crimes

5 People Twitter Hasn't Bothered To Ban

Twitter is purging bots — so why isn't it cracking down on accounts guilty of offending many and violating Twitter's own rules?

By Jennifer Boeder

Twitter is famously infested with white supremacists, Russian bots, anti-Semites, and serial harassers. Some people like Lindy West have abandoned the platform completely — but what about the rest of its 150 million daily users? In 2017, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “What’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017?” One user responded, “Comprehensive plan for getting rid of the Nazis.”

Supporters say Twitter has been trying, implementing new rules against hate and harassment, and banning numerous extremist accounts. It recently cracked down on bot activity. Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli was banned for harassing journalist Lauren Duca, and Milo was forever banished after inciting a racist campaign against comedian Leslie Jones.

But there are numerous accounts that violate Twitter’s terms of service (or just the norms of decency) on the regular without ever being banned. Some say it’s a free expression issue: Twitter can’t just ban everyone who talks trash, and repugnant speech is still free speech. But critics say Twitter’s bottom line benefits from having trolls and harassers, and as long as they reap financial rewards they’ll offer lip service to safety but will never truly clean up the site.

Here are some accounts that will just leave you wondering how Twitter hasn’t #canceled them  yet—

1. Richard Spencer, 80,800 followers

Spencer is president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, and is responsible for creating the term “alt right.” Famous for his “fashy” haircut and fondness for tiki torches, he’s been dubbed a “professional racist in khakis” by the Southern Poverty Law Center and was the Nazi-who-got-punched on Inauguration Day.

2. David Duke, 49,700 followers

Duke has been making headlines for his neo-Nazism and leadership in the Ku Klux Klan since the 1970s. While at school at Louisiana State University he infamously paraded around campus in a Nazi uniform. He’s founded numerous white supremacist organizations, among them the National Association for the Advancement of White People. He spends time on Twitter raging about Israel and “Jewish supremacism.”

3. Louis Farrakhan, 473,000 followers

Like the neo-Nazis above, the leader of the Nation of Islam spends a lot of time raging about Jewish people. He’s described Hitler as “a very great man” and said in a February 2018 speech that “Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men.” He’s Twitter-verified, though.

4. Alex Jones, 796,000 followers

This right-wing Infowars host heavily promoted a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton’s staff operated a child sex trafficking ring out of Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., a.k.a. #Pizzagate. But we’d say his most bannable offense is claiming that the deaths of the 20 children murdered at Sandy Hook were faked to promote gun control, a lie that result in harassment of the children’s grieving parents. Twitter verified though!

And finally, the one you've all been expecting...

5.Donald Trump, 48.7 million followers

The leader of the free world is known as the first Twitter President, but critics say he violates the terms of service so frequently Twitter should have banned him long ago. Twitter explicitly forbids “inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others” yet the New York Times says Trump has targeted 337 different entities on Twitter. He sends abusive and threatening tweets that feature other users’ handles, retweets antisemitic and racist memes, and has threatened nuclear war on several occasions since the election. But since the president is worth, by one estimate, more than $2 billion to Twitter, it’s highly unlikely he will ever be banned. "He's having a real-time conversation with the world," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told CNN. "And I think that's something we should learn from." We’re sure that getting to learn from the president’s real-time conversation must be a huge comfort to the 74 million people who live on the Korean peninsula.

When reached for comment, Twitter responded with how they enforce rules, and CEO Jack's statement regarding Twitter's committment to collective health.

(Header photo: Paul J Richards/Getty Images)

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