Twitter took action yesterday and banned gay alt-right conservative and self-described “most fabulous supervillain on the internet” Milo Yiannopoulos (@nero) from its platform following a torrent of abuse from his followers and others towards Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.

Yiannopoulos had previously lost his verification badge (the coveted blue tick) on Twitter because of his behaviour on the site, but the permanent ban was brought on by Twitter because the site said Yiannopoulos’ abuse was in violation of the company’s terms and conditions.

Twitter has faced criticism for its inaction in dealing with abuse, and its inconsistency acting on claims of abuse and harassment from everyone — not just on the abuse directed at high-profile people. Twitter has admitted in the past that the company has been bad at dealing with trolls, but the ban on Yiannopoulos could signal it’s getting serious about it. The decision this week to begin to offer verified accounts to people who apply could suggest Twitter is considering de-anonymising the service as the best way to cut down on abuse.

The ban on Nero so far has only strengthened his legions of fans, who have started a “free Milo” movement to attempt to get him reinstated on Twitter.

Milo himself, playing the best martyr role he can, told his website Breitbart.com that the action proved that Twitter was “a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives”.

Peter Fray

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