#FreeMilo is a social media hashtag created to protest twitter’s decision to ban controversial conservative journalist Milo Yiannapoulos from their service (see also: #FreeNero; #JeSuisMilo).
Milo Yiannopoulos is the tech editor at Breitbart News and a high-profile and controversial media pundit in the Internet’s alt-right / cultural libertarian movement.
His twitter account was permanently suspended in July 2016 for ‘repeated violations of twitter user rules by participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals‘.
The action was viewed by many as a blatant act of censorship, further evidence of double standards and political bias by twitter against Conservative voices.
Conversely many in the liberal press welcomed, even celebrated, the ban viewing it as a signal that the platform finally intended to address vocal concerns about trolling and abusive behaviour.
The ban was implemented after Yiannopoulos was alleged to have incited people to bombard comedian and movie star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets soon after the American release of the all female Ghostbusters reboot.
Twitter have refused to be drawn on the precise reason for the ban and based on the available evidence many (including his employer) have concluded that Yiannopoulos is clearly not guilty of a charge that he has no right to appeal.
I did nothing wrong. Twitter has suspended me without evidence of wrongdoing and without explanation while allowing the most appalling abuses to continue on its platform. This is political, plain and simple. Leslie Jones ain’t afraid of no ghost– but evidently she’s allergic to bad reviews. Milo Yiannopoulos
Brietbart responded to the ban by publishing a series of article highlighting some of the social media platform’s double standards, including the fact that twitter did nothing when one of their reporters was called a ‘coon’, that members of ISIS continually use their service, that the platform was flooded with calls from users for anti-cop violence in the wake of the Dallas and Baton Rouge murders and the fact that Leslie Jones herself has often posted tweets perceived as racist, homophobic and abusive.
The whistle blowing web site Wikileaks also criticsed the action describing the ban as ‘an act of cyber-feudalism‘ and threatening to start a rival social media service.
Wikileaks also pointed to double standards by linking to an archive of a twitter account used to send death threats and smear a journalist involved in the Edward Snowden leaks and even flagged a recent tweet by Leslie Jones doing the exact thing that Yianopolis had been accused of doing (inciting abuse against other twitter users).
The #freemilo hashtag began trending worldwide hours after the ban took place and continued to trend solidly for 48 hours until it was removed from listings. This in turn helped to highlight twitter’s increased use of shadow banning (or stealth banning) on their platform.
Evidence that this practice has been used to covertly censor ‘politically inconvenient’ accounts has even lead to accusations that twitter have attempted ito influence the US Presidential elections after they were caught shadow banning distribution of a campaign video from Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Of course I didn’t break Twitter’s terms of service, they have a whole team of cybersleuths on the Milo beat, so what would be the point? Besides, I don’t need to break the terms of service to point out the mendacious hypocrisy of the left on social media. I suppose I did break Twitter’s unwritten rules by tweeting truths they’d prefer to leave unsaid. Twitter’s permanent suspension of my account makes a mockery of their claims to be a free speech platform.
Twitter is intent on protecting free speech, as long as you are a Hollywood actress who bravely tweets about white people, or a New York globalist advocating for violence against Donald Trump. They’ve made it clear that being gay and conservative doesn’t get me past the velvet rope into their free speech club, which is looking more and more like the same liberal echo chamber the mainstream media turned into decades ago. Milo Yiannopoulos
Previous efforts to censor or silence him have only served to raise his profile and given the amount of media coverage that followed when they pulled his account (moments before he hosted a ‘Gays for Trump’ event at the Republican National Congress) it seems likely that twitter’s action will backfire.
Less than a week later the company’s share price had dropped by 10% after quaterly returns showed sluggish growth.
Meanwhile, even though it was no longer ‘officially’ trending, the #freemilo protest continues with chalking displays appearing outside numerous significant venues including various twitter offices around the world.
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. This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you’re not welcome on Twitter. Milo Yiannopoulos