It was nice while it lasted, but the ruse is over. The “free speech wing of the free speech party” dropped their ruse of holding a platform for all voices when Twitter, late last night, permanently suspended “conservative provocateur” Milo Yiannopolous’s @Nero account.
It didn’t take Twitter long to let the world know following the formation of their Trust and Safety Council that Yiannopolous, an editor for Breitbart, was a marked man. They took away Milo’s precious blue “verified” check mark, a sign letting the world know the account was his and not one of the numerous fake accounts bearing his name. The last straw in Yiannopolous’s antics, apparently, was his bashing of “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones. Some called Milo’s work an “organized campaign of online harassment” eventually leading to Jones quitting Twitter.
That didn’t last long. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, eventually reached out to Jones, and the two conversed via DM. Then, last night, Yiannopolous joined the ranks of the Twitter Banned, standing beside people like Robert Stacy McCain and Got News’ Chuck Johnson. This banning is different, though, and it’s one Twitter might regret in the days to come.
Within hours of Milo’s @Nero suspension, the hashtag #FreeMilo started trending on Twitter. Right now it’s sitting as #1 on my “Tailored Trends” topics. Adding the hashtag into Tweetdeck produces a torrent of tweets on the subject, ranging from people fully in support of Milo to those gleefully rejoicing in Milo’s ban, and suggesting those upset about the issue join him and delete their accounts. In essence, by removing Milo from the social media platform, they managed to amplify the “Dangerous Faggot’s” presence more than ever before. It’s also highlighted Twitter’s disingenuous stance on free speech.
Make no mistake, Twitter is a private company, free to select who uses its services and who doesn’t. And they’re free to select what they term “harassment” or “hate speech” and silence those voices. But in taking the anti-Milo side, Twitter stands on treacherous grounds of doing something no one in their camp wants to do: prove him right.
During Yiannopolous’s last appearance on Dave Rubin’s “Rubin Report” show, Yiannopolous predicted Twitter would eventually shed its chosen mantle as a bastion of free speech and stand as a platform only devoted to allowing those ideas it deemed “safe” or acceptable. They’ve done just that with the banning of Yiannopolous, and even allowed others to posit wilder stances than his, such as the ban’s “targeted” nature as it came right before Yiannopolous attended a “Gays for Trump” party during the Republican National Convention. The ruse is gone, and Jack can’t take it back.
Worse yet, Twitter managed to give credence to the throngs of “men’s rights activists,” or MRAs, who claim women can’t handle criticism on the platform. It also places Leslie Jones in a negative light, as a female comedian, arguably someone who should be able to handle criticism from hecklers or otherwise with ample savvy, was outed as someone who needed a Twitter knight in shining armor to activate the Trust and Safety Council’s jackbooted digital thugs and suppress Milo’s voice.
It’s an odd stance for a social media platform to take, especially one so allegedly pro free speech, and ostensibly the bastion of the marketplace of ideas. A gay man with a fetish for black dudes is silenced for criticizing a black comedian. In the meantime, pro-ISIS accounts are allowed, and tweets advocating for the killing of cops are prolific. Even Jones, originally clutching her pearls and whining about how something had to be done to stop all the hate, is back on Twitter denouncing “white people shit.”
Yiannopolous’s presence has yet to end on Facebook, which poses an interesting conundrum for Mark Zuckerberg and his team. They’ve already been outed as anti-conservative through leaked information, when word circulated his team internally wanted to stop Donald Trump from becoming President. Zuckerberg, firmly in the crosshairs of the free speech world, invited a number of prominent conservative talking heads to his offices in California and affirmed his commitment to promoting all values, no matter what.
The ball is then ostensibly in Facebook’s court, and can be used to breathe fresh life into a platform now largely seen as an echo chamber for those still using it. If Mark Zuckerberg takes a strong stance and blows the doors open for any and all, firmly distinguishing Facebook from Twitter, it will send a powerful message and bring the disenchanted back to the land of “likes” and “pokes.” If Zuckerberg remains silent on the issue, or worse yet adds fuel to the fire by endorsing the ban of Milo Yiannopolous, then both social media platforms will suffer.
Only time will tell, as the story is less than a day old and yet gaining international attention. One thing’s for sure, and that’s striking down Nero only makes him more powerful and amplifies his voice than one would possibly imagine.