Yesterday Twitter, in response to years of complaints about letting white nationalists use the platform even though they had already been banned, said that it plans to conduct academic research on the subject. At HuffPost, Luke O’Brien took the occasion to note just how many white nationalists are using the platform:
The white supremacist accused of murdering 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March was also on Twitter, where he spread Islamophobia, white supremacist propaganda and articles about terrorist attacks. He tweeted pictures of his weapons and posted links to a disturbing manifesto he wrote, apparently in anticipation of the deadly rampage. Only after he was charged in a mass murder did Twitter act.
The shooter may have carried out the genocidal end goal of white supremacy, but there are thousands of white supremacists on Twitter with the same mindset, most of them anonymous and working in concert. In a 2018 study, extremism expert J.M. Berger offered an “extremely conservative” estimate that at least 100,000 alt-right users are on Twitter. The repercussions for these bad actors are practically nonexistent.