Twitter suspends more than 50 white nationalist accounts

The move came days after NBC News published an article on a new report documenting the proliferation of white nationalist content on social media platforms.
Image: Leader of the Identitarian Movement (IBOe) far right group, Martin Sellner during a press conference in Vienna, Austria.
The leader of the Identitarian Movement (IBOe) far right group, Martin Sellner, in Vienna, Austria.Georg Hochmuth / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Anna Schecter

Twitter has suspended more than 50 white nationalist accounts amid recent criticism over its handling of extremist content, a source familiar with the matter said Friday.

The move came days after NBC News published a story on a new report documenting the proliferation of white nationalist content on social media platforms.

“The accounts in question were suspended for violating our policies in relation to violent extremism,” Twitter said in a statement.

Three days after this story was published, YouTube said it had suspended three white nationalist accounts.

Twitter and YouTube were criticized in the report, released Tuesday by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, for helping white nationalist groups spread their message and recruit new members.

The report focused on the Identitarian movement, also known as Generation Identity, an ideology based on the notion that people of European heritage are being "replaced" by immigrants. The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism identified 67 Twitter accounts for Generation Identity chapters in 14 countries with nearly 140,000 followers.

“I think this is a very important move Twitter made because it means the major international white nationalist group connected to the violence in Christchurch and many other attacks no longer can use Twitter to propagandize against people of color or, perhaps more importantly, to recruit young people into their movement,” said Heidi Beirich, co-author of the report, referring to the 2019 attack at a mosque in New Zealand in which a far-right extremist killed 51 people at two mosques.

One of the suspended accounts belonged to Martin Sellner, leader of the Identitarian Movement in Austria.

“It is another act of censorship of freedom of speech,” Sellner said in a phone interview.

“We are the only group really talking about mass immigration and population replacement. The mainstream has no answers to our question: Why should we accept becoming a minority in our own countries?” Sellner said.

The three suspended YouTube accounts were all associated with Sellner.

A spokesperson for Google, YouTube’s parent company, initially said that while some of Sellner’s videos had been taken down in the past, his channel did not violate the company’s policies.

On Monday, a spokesperson said: “After further review by our teams, three channels associated with Martin Sellner have been terminated for violating our Terms of Service.”

Sellner said he will contest YouTube’s move.