Twitter permanently bans former KKK leader David Duke
By JACOB BOGAGE AND EUGENE SCOTT | The Washington Post | Published: July 31, 2020
Avowed white supremacist David Duke was permanently banned from Twitter for repeated violations of the social media platform's rules on hate speech.
The former Ku Klux Klan leader and one-time Louisiana legislator's most recent tweets included a link to an interview he conducted with Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf. Other posts promised to expose the "systemic racism lie" and the "incitement of violence against white people" by Jewish-owned media, and misinformation about the danger and spread of the coronavirus.
"People who refuse the mask are the real heroes," he tweeted.
Duke, who is most recently known for endorsing President Trump, was banned from YouTube in June. The company confirmed the move Thursday evening.
Twitter and other social media platforms have come under for years from anti-hate advocates for lax regulations on racist, anti-Semitic and misogynistic commentary from users, especially those who self-identify with hate groups.
"While this is a step in the right direction, Twitter, and other social media companies and message boards, still have a lot of work to do to clean up their platforms and stop the spread of hateful ideologies and propaganda," Keegan Hankes, interim research director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement. "David Duke is just a start, but there are still many others. We have seen how social media is a powerful tool used to accelerate the spread of hate and how most tech companies do very little to limit the spread until it's too late."
"Social platforms should be a place where all users can be free of the hate & harassment that Duke and his ilk regularly promote," tweeted Anti-Defamation League Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblatt.
Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy told The Post on Friday that Duke's account was "permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter Rules on hateful conduct. This enforcement action is in line with our recently-updated guidance on harmful links."
Duke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Social media companies have been under increased pressure to address hate speech on their platforms. In March, Twitter stopped allowing users to share links that include "hateful content" or incite violence. YouTube adopted a similar policy in June. Facebook, bowing to public pressure, employee unrest and an advertiser boycott, has backed away from its long-standing refusal to more aggressively address hate speech and other platform violations from politicians such as Trump.
Twitter's hateful conduct policy prohibits content that promotes violence toward people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or serious disease, according to the company's website.
The company in March also began policing links that violate its rules of conduct, either blocking access to them or including warning that they lead to harmful or malicious content.