Milo vs. Twitter: Open Dialogue on the Internet

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David Blondin

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Last year, the most fabulous supervillain on the internet, the flamboyantly conservative technology editor for Breitbart.com, and the infamous internet provocateur Milo Yiannopolous graced the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs with his fiery rhetoric and Alt-Right viewpoints. Yiannopoulos spoke despite a terribly organized protest by Students for a Democratic Society, a U of M organization that promotes more fascism than democracy.

Mr. Yiannopoulos, also formerly known as “@Nero” on Twitter, has been permanently banned from Twitter for allegedly violating the site’s terms of use. Twitter claims that he has incited cyberbullying and abuse multiple times, most recently targeting actress Leslie Jones. Ms. Jones stars in Sony’s Ghostbusters movie re-make; Yiannopoulos criticized her acting abilities, which apparently incited some internet trolls to cyberbully Jones until she was on the verge of tears. In an interview with CNBC, Yiannopoulos openly denounced some of his followers that wrote nasty comments and messages to Ms. Jones. The lifetime ban of Milo from Twitter brings up a bigger political issue: the constant social and electronic media silencing of effective conservative voices.

Another controversy that drew criticism from conservatives occurred when the popular internet site Reddit recalculated its algorithm that involves links and pages throughout the internet to determine what sites will be listed on its front page. Reddit responded to accusations that conservative viewpoints were no longer easily accessible, saying it wanted to promote diversity in opinions. The detractors claim that their opinions were silenced because of this move, in particular during the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack this last June.
R/The_Donald, a right wing subreddit popular with presidential candidate Donald Trump supporters, provided an alternative view on the Orlando shooting that was deemed “Islamophobic” by the moderators of r/pol, a notoriously neo-liberal subreddit that claims to cover all things political. The algorithm recalculation was done after r/the_donald rose in popularity as a source for discussion on the site, in place of r/pol.

Media platforms justify their practices of marginalizing or silencing conservative political voices by pointing out that they are private sector corporations with the right to publish what they please without interference from others. Figures like Yiannopoulos do not debate that these platforms have the right to control the site’s contents, but they want the sites to admit to their agendas. Twitter has hosted accounts for hate groups like ISIS, the KKK, and Neo-Nazi groups. The selective ban of an effective voice because of his criticism of a public figure demonstrates how the leftist media attempts to control public political opinion in our country.