No More Twitter for the Internet's Self-Proclaimed 'Supervillain'

Milo Yiannopoulos was banned after hateful messages received by Leslie Jones, a star of the new Ghostbusters movie.

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

NEWS BRIEF The self-proclaimed “most fabulous supervillain on the internet” is no longer on Twitter. Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero), who had 338,000 followers, many of whom made up a conservative social-media army, was banned Tuesday from the social-media platform for violating its harassment policy.

Yiannopoulos helped mobilize a conservative movement online, and has been accused of inspiring his followers to tweet offensive and racist messages. He himself once compared rape culture with Harry Potter, calling them “both fantasy”—and has been suspended several times by Twitter. But it was ultimately the all-female remake of Ghostbusters that brought him down. Yiannopoulos had led a campaign of trolls against the movie. The brunt of the abuse has been directed at Leslie Jones, the comedian and co-star of the film. On Monday, after a torrent of racist and sexist comments, Jones, who is black, said she would leave Twitter. “All this cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the shit I got today. wrong.”

Yiannopoulos is also the tech editor at the conservative website Breitbart, and after he learned his account had been banned permanently, he commented to his employer:

“With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.”

“Twitter is holding me responsible for the actions of fans and trolls using the special pretzel logic of the left. Where are the Twitter police when Justin Bieber’s fans cut themselves on his behalf?”

“Like all acts of the totalitarian regressive left, this will blow up in their faces, netting me more adoring fans. We’re winning the culture war, and Twitter just shot themselves in the foot.”

Twitter has tried to strike a balance between free speech and abuse, especially after the Gamergate controversy, which saw several women in the gaming industry harassed to the point of receiving death threats. In much the same way, Jones and the cast of the new Ghostbusters movie were targeted by misogynistic tweets. On Monday, after Jones sent out several exasperated tweets that trolls had inundated her with hateful comments, the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, sent her a message:

That was followed up with the ban on Yiannopoulos.  Soon after, in a statement from Twitter, the company said, “We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behavior on Twitter. We agree.”