Twitter permanently bans right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos

Twitter permanently bans right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos
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Twitter on Tuesday night permanently banned conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos from using its service.

Yiannopoulos, the tech editor for right-wing site Breitbart.com, is known for making provocative statements. The suspension comes after years of complaints that Yiannopoulos used his account to egg on his hundreds of thousands of followers.

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He is said to have sparked a wave of racist and sexist harassment against "Ghostbusters" star Leslie Jones that ended with Jones saying in the early hours of Tuesday morning she was leaving Twitter. BuzzFeed reported that the incident had led to Yiannopoulos — who used the handle @nero — being banned for life.

Yiannopoulos, when asked about his tweets about Jones, mocked her in comments to his employer.

A Twitter spokesperson did not respond to a question about what policy violation specifically led to Yiannopoulos’s suspension.

The spokesperson, in a statement, said the company had taken action against accounts that had engaged in harassment or abuse over the last 48 hours but did not specifically name Yiannopoulos.

“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,” said a Twitter official in a statement. “But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.

“Over the past 48 hours in particular, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of accounts violating these policies and have taken enforcement actions against these accounts, ranging from warnings that also require the deletion of Tweets violating our policies to permanent suspension.”

The company has long struggled to contain abuse and harassment rampant on its platform, often from anonymous users. In response to the harassment against Jones, it said it was continuing to invest in dealing with the problem — something the spokesperson reiterated in the company’s Tuesday night statement.

“We have been in the process of reviewing our hateful conduct policy 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,” the official said. “We’ll provide more details on those changes in the coming weeks.”

Yiannopoulos did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He told Breitbart, "This is the end for Twitter."

"Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you’re not welcome on Twitter," he said.

He is scheduled to appear at an event linked to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Tuesday night.

— Mark Hensch contributed.