One of the most notorious conservative trolls has been permanently banned from Twitter. On Tuesday, officials with the microblogging platform said Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a leading voice of the alt-right, was in violation of its terms of service after he led a campaign of harassment against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.
The comedian received a barrage of racist tweets from users comparing her to an ape. In hopes of stopping the abuse, Jones, who also appears on Saturday Night Live, began retweeting the messages.
"Exposing I hope y'all go after them like they going after me," the 48-year-old wrote, adding shortly after: "I'm not stupid to not know racism exists. And I know it will probably live on way after me. But we have to make people take responsibility for the hate they spew. We have to stand up to it."
That harassment was egged on by Yiannopoulos, who referred to Jones as a "man" and "barely literate."
After Jones began to retweet her abusers, he tweeted to his 338,000 followers, "If at first you don't succeed (because your work is terrible), play the victim. EVERYONE GETS HATE MAIL FFS."
The 32-year-old Brit, who is gay, has been known for leading campaigns of harassment against other Twitter users. Yiannopoulos, who referred to himself as a "supervillain" in his bio, was an influential voice in the Gamergate movement, one responsible for targeting women in the gaming industry with rape and death threats. He has also referred to feminism as cancer.
After a direct war of words with Yiannopoulos, Jones blocked him from her page, later receiving a tweet from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. "Hi Leslie, following, please DM me when you have a moment," he wrote.
Hours later, Yiannopoulos received an email from Twitter stating that his account would be deactivated and he would not be allowed to rejoin the site.
In the wake of the incident, Dorsey has announced that Twitter will be rolling out new policies on harassment, with the goal to "prohibit additional types of abusive behavior and allow more types of reporting, with the goal of reducing the burden on the person being targeted."
"We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behavior on Twitter," the CEO said in a press release. "We agree."
Yiannopoulos responded that these changes will backfire for the platform.
"Like all acts of the totalitarian regressive left, this will blow up in their faces, netting me more adoring fans," Yiannopoulos toldBreitbart following the ban. "We're winning the culture war, and Twitter just shot themselves in the foot. This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you're not welcome on Twitter."
Following his indefinite suspension, conservative followers began to protest the decision, tweeting #FreeMilo and threatening to suspend their accounts. The hashtag began trending Wednesday morning.
Dave Rubin, who hosts The Rubin Report on YouTube, said supporting Yiannopoulos is not about the First Amendment. "My defense of him is a defense of exchange of ideas," he tweeted. "Twitter / Facebook have become the roads we have to partake for exchange of ideas. There should be convo about their responsibilities."
Despite Yiannopoulos being banned, Jones said Tuesday that she would be leaving Twitter.
"I feel like I'm in a personal hell," Jones wrote. I didn't do anything to deserve this. It's just too much. It shouldn't be like this. So hurt right now. ... All this cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the shit I got today ... wrong."