Twitter has permanently banned a conservative writer and provocateur for allegedly provoking online racial abuse of Leslie Jones, an actress in the new Ghostbusters movie.
The social media company said Breitbart senior technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos, known as @Nero on Twitter, broke the company’s rules "prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals."
The new Ghostbusters movie is a remake of an ‘80s classic, but this time features an all-female cast, including Jones, an African-American comedian.
For purists of the movie, the remake has been criticized, while movie critics have given the movie mixed reviews. Yiannopoulos panned the movie in a review on Breitbart.
Jones accused Yiannopoulos, who had over 340,000 followers on Twitter, of inciting racial abuse. The actress shared some of the abusive tweets, which included accusing the comedian of being responsible for AIDS and comparing her to a gorilla.
Jones reached out to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to complain about the abuse before saying she was quitting the social media platform "with tears and a very sad heart. All this cause I did a movie."
Yiannopoulos denied sending abusive tweets at Jones, saying, “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?”
He did send Jones a tweet saying “If at first you don’t succeed (because your work is terrible), play the victim. Everyone gets hate mail.” He also poked fun at the comedian’s grammar.
Yiannopoulos said his suspension was an attack on free speech.
"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," Yiannopoulos 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."
Yiannopoulos has had his account suspended before over similar charges, but had always been reinstated. He did, however, lose his blue “verified” designator as a result of one spat.
In a statement, Twitter said it was "continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to prevent this kind of abuse." adding there was "a lot of work in front of us before Twitter is where it should be on how we handle these issues."
Supporters of Yiannopoulos took to Twitter and caused the #freemilo hashtag to become trending.
The dispute comes at a time of transition for Twitter, which is popular, but has yet to find a way to make money. Furthermore, the company has been criticized for not removing accounts promoting so-called hate speech.
The company has even reported losing users in the face of fierce competition from social media behemoths like Facebook and Instagram.
Dorsey recently returned to run the company has has rolled out some changes the company hopes will attract users and advertisers.