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Twitter: Extreme problem

Social media platforms are having a hard time.

Facebook trying to deal with a mass advertising boycott amid civil rights concerns, YouTube has been running Joe Biden’s ads on neo-Nazi channels and Twitter is home to dozens of far-right groups.

Twitter is the only one who has this far acted decisively. The social media giant suspended over 50 white nationalist accounts after the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) published a report that documented the proliferation of white nationalist content on Twitter.

Researchers found 67 Twitter accounts for “Generation Identity” chapters in 14 countries, with nearly 140,000 followers. The group follows the “Identitarian” movement, an ideology based on the notion that people of European heritage are being “replaced” by immigrants.

Some have decried efforts to suspend those on the far end of the political spectrum, claiming that it violates freedom of speech and ultimately harms our political discourse. But the GPAHE report points out that we have never allowed Islamist fundamentalists to promote their propaganda, so why should be let “Generation Identity” and their racist ideologues to spout theirs?

Western intelligence agencies and police have warned of the increasing threat of white supremacist terrorism. The basis of the “Identitarian” movement has inspired six mass attacks in the past two years; the mosque attacks in Christchurch, attacks at two American synagogues, an El Paso Walmart, a synagogue in Halle, Germany, and two shisha bars in Hanau, Germany.

Twitter was right to take these accounts down. These far right movements are very much led by younger males and they thrive on social media platforms which in extreme cases can act as important gateways into radicalisation.

Let’s hope Twitter’s actions are a step in the right direction and one that sees the platform do more to combat extremists from all sides on its site. Jack Dorsey has been the most pro-active in attempting to combat the issues plaguing his site, but I won’t be patiently waiting for Zuckerberg to do the same.

“It would be inconceivable for social media platforms to allow ISIS propaganda to spread and grow unchecked, but that is exactly what is happening with identitarianism.”

Report by Global Project Against Hate and Extremism

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