Twitter suspends Britain First leaders as it enforces new anti-abuse rules
Twitter has suspended the accounts of the leader and deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right group recently retweeted by Donald Trump, under the terms of its revised anti-abuse rules.
Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen’s accounts were unavailable on Monday afternoon hours after the social network’s new rules came into effect. The organisation’s main account was also suspended.
Fransen came to global attention when Trump retweeted anti-Islam videos she had posted in November. She was in court in Belfast last week on two charges relating to behaviour intended to or likely to stir up hatred and was rearrested outside the court for a separate incident. Golding was also arrested outside the courtroom.
Twitter has recently faced accusations of not doing enough to protect those targeted by abuse and hate speech.
The new guidelines, leaked in October and announced in November, are part of Twitter’s two-year work to counteract inappropriate content and behaviour, according to the company’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey.
The they take into account offline activity, as well as that on social media, and forbid users from affiliating with organisations that promote violence against civilians. “Hateful images or symbols” are also prohibited in user profiles or biographies.
Breach of any of the new rules could lead to permanent account suspension, Twitter said.
The site recently paused its verification process, which is designed to ensure users are who they claim to be, after it was criticised for verifying the account of Jason Kessler, a prominent alt-right figure in the US who organised a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It has since been removing the verified “blue tick” badges from rightwing figures, including the former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson.
Twitter said the verified badge was never meant as a sign of endorsement, and he firm’s boss Jack Dorsey described the process as “broken”.
Several white nationalist figures in the US also had their accounts suspended including Jared Taylor, who heads the New Century Foundation along with his organisation’s flagship online publication, American Renaissance.
Taylor said he immediately appealed against the suspension but swiftly received a reply from Twitter informing him that his account would not be restored, which he interpreted to mean he had been permanently banned.
The company was also recently criticised for failing to act on Fransen’s tweets of anti-Muslim videos, because the incident made global headlines when they were retweeted by the US president.
The site was forced to clarify its position after it initially appeared to suggest the videos were not removed because they stoked debate.
Dorsey said the site had “mistakenly pointed to the wrong reason” the videos remained online, with the company adding that its current media policy had not been violated, but would “continue to re-evaluate and examine our policies as the world around us evolves”.
Twitter has repeatedly come under fire for its uneven enforcement of its policies, with anti-harassment campaigner and US congressional candidate Brianna Wu saying she could “report the same behaviour one day and it’s acted on. The next day it’s not.”
“Unless you are investing more in personnel and training staff in subjects they may not understand, this isn’t going to solve it,.”
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