Twitter Bans Breitbart Editor In Response to Leslie Jones Harassment

In an unusually public response to harassment charges, Twitter permanently banned controversial columnist Milo Yiannopoulos from its platform Tuesday night. Yiannopoulos, who works for the conservative website Breitbart.com, had been charged with inciting a storm of racist tweets against “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones, which prompted the actress to announce her own departure from Twitter earlier this week.

“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,” a Twitter spokesperson said via email. The statement didn’t mention Yiannopoulos by name, but said that Twitter had taken actions against a number of accounts, “ranging from warnings that also require the deletion of Tweets violating our policies to permanent suspension.” The ban of Yiannopoulos was first reported by Buzzfeed.

Yiannopoulos had long been credited with inciting mob-like behavior among his followers, and frequently picked on liberals, women and people of color. He became a champion of the so-called GamerGate movement, and was temporarily banned from Twitter before. At one point, he had tweeted that one of his victims “deserves to be harassed.”

Yiannopoulos responded to the now-permanent ban by calling it “cowardly” and predicting that this would harm Twitter. “Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you’re not welcome on Twitter,” he was quoted on Breitbart.com.

Victims of online harassment have long argued that Twitter hasn’t done enough to curb hateful speech and abuse. Tuesday’s response may indicate that the company is changing its tone on the issue. It was particularly notable because CEO Jack Dorsey himself intervened, at one point asking Jones with a tweet to contact him privately to discuss her concerns.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • fundo logo

    Google‘s Area 120 Is Testing Fundo, a Crowdfunding Service for Creators (EXCLUSIVE)

    Google’s skunkworks lab Area 120 has been quietly testing an events-centric crowdfunding service for YouTubers, Variety has learned. Called Fundo, the service allows creators to invite their fans to virtual meet & greet sessions and other paid online events. A Google spokesperson confirmed the testing in a statement provided to Variety: “One of the many [...]

  • Telling Lies - Logan Marshall-Green

    Sam Barlow's 'Telling Lies' Government-Surveillance Thriller Game Sets Release Date

    After more than two years in the works, “Telling Lies” — the investigative thriller from acclaimed game creator Sam Barlow — is ready to take the stage. The game, produced with and released by Annapurna Interactive, will be available next Friday, Aug. 23, via Steam and Apple’s Mac and iOS app stores. “Telling Lies” will [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Will Stop Letting Copyright Holders Seize Revenue via Manual Claims on Very Short Music Clips

    YouTube is pushing back against overzealous copyright policing by music companies. Starting in mid-September, the video giant will forbid copyright holders from making manual claims to commandeer revenue generated by YouTube videos that include very short music clips (e.g., five seconds of a song) or “unintentional” music (like music from passing cars). “One concerning trend [...]

  • Chelsea Handler memoir book buy online

    Chelsea Handler Bonds With Alexa in iHeartRadio Smart Speaker Promo

    iHeartRadio has teamed up with Amazon to promote Chelsea Handler’s podcast “Life Will Be The Death Of Me.” Beginning this Thursday, users of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and other devices with Alexa built-in can opt to get their mornings started with Handler cracking jokes and exchanging banter with the smart assistant. Users simply have to [...]

  • David Messinger, Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Hires CAA Veteran David Messinger as CMO

    Activision Blizzard tapped David Messinger, a former 15-plus-year veteran of CAA, as its first corporate-wide chief marketing officer. Messinger, based in Santa Monica, reports to Coddy Johnson, Activision Blizzard’s president and COO. It’s the first time the video-game company has appointed a CMO who will oversee the global marketing operations across all of Activision Blizzard [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content