Twitter, which is working towards curbing hate speech, went after popular user Yiannopoulos, a British journalist for Breitbart News. The micro-blogging firm revoked his verified status on Friday evening.
Yiannopoulos questions Twitter’s decision
Yiannopoulos, who has a reputation of making provocative, unapologetic commentary, has more than 140,000 followers on Twitter. The journalist has been vocal in the contentious movement refers to the controversy around a “harassment” campaign orchestrated primarily via use of the Twitter hashtag #Gamergate,. Yiannopoulus, who is gay, has been criticized for targeting women on the platform.
In December, for example, he tweeted, “Is it any wonder successful gay men hate feminists, when women, in tax terms as elsewhere, are so … well, parasitical?”
Yiannopoulus insists that his posts aren’t serious, adding that Twitter has gone against him because its employees do not like the jokes he makes. The journalist said he is not able to figure out exactly what he has said to offend Twitter. He called himself “a provocateur, a satirist.” To understand what exactly the company was reacting to, Yiannopoulus said he reached out to Twitter twice but got no response.
On Sunday, Yiannopoulus told CNNMoney that he believes the company has already taken its first step towards getting him off the platform and that “ridicule and criticism are being re-branded abuse and harassment.”
Twitter may block Yiannopoulos
On Dec. 29, the micro-blogging site announced new measures to combat posts that included abusive behavior and hateful content. The platform had been facing criticism for allowing abuse, harassment and even death threats.
Twitter sent Yiannopoulus an email informing him that his verification has been revoked. On Friday evening, the journalist tweeted a screenshot of that email, saying, “I’ve been sat at the naughty table!” Twitter confirmed to CNNMoney that the screenshot Yiannopoulus has shared is valid, adding that if Yiannopoulus is found guilty of any additional violations, then he could be removed from the platform altogether.
Yiannopolus has the support of prominent Silicon Valley figures like Uber investor Jason Calacanis and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who tweeted that by policing Yiannopoulus, the micro-blogging platform is subsequently policing free speech. There are others who see it differently though. For example, one user referred Yiannopoulus as a “known misogynist harasser.”