After “permanently suspending” and promptly reinstating accounts related to the transnational white supremacist Generation Identity network, Twitter proves Musk’s ideology supersedes their own published content policies
Following a Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) report about the continued presence of the transnational white nationalist network Generation Identity (GI) and its allies on social media, Twitter took down 31 accounts associated with GI, only to have 26 of them reinstated within 48 hours. Some of these accounts were created after being permanently suspended for hateful activity in 2020 in relation to another GPAHE report, which is a clear violation of Twitter’s ban evasion policy.
Make no mistake, Identitarianism is a security threat. GI and their Identitarian adherents routinely spread the dangerous “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which has inspired mass shootings worldwide, including in Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and multiple in the United States. Recently, Identitarians have been pushing their desire for “remigration,” which involves the deportation of all non-white people from Europe – in essence ethnic cleansing. Twitter’s own hateful conduct policy states that violative material includes “spreading fearful stereotypes about a protected category,” “dehumanization,” and “hateful imagery.” From the examples above, it’s clear that the Identitarian movement, which actively targets Muslims and spreads antisemitic conspiracy theories, bases their entire ideology on rhetoric that breaks Twitter’s policies. Musk has a history of supporting the conspiracy theory, which manifests through his comments on pro-natalism, extreme antisemitism, and claims that rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean constituted an “invasion.” At great expense to protected communities, Musk also interacts with hateful individuals like Chaya Raichik (LibsofTikTok), and platforms hatemongers, like reinstating infamous neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, thereby delegitimizing any efforts from Twitter staff or extremism researchers to combat hate.
Thaïs D’Escufon, former spokesperson for GI in France, who has over 30,000 followers, actively tweets in support of racist Identitarian protests, using extreme anti-Muslim slurs, such as calling French soccer player Karim Benzema “l’islamo-racaille,” roughly translated as “Muslim thug.” She was previously banned twice on Twitter, making her a serial ban evader. Inexplicably, Thaïs’ account was back on the platform within 24 hours.
Identitäre Bewegung Europe (Identitarian Movement Europe, IB), an umbrella group for Identitarians across the continent, was promptly suspended following our reporting. However, their Telegram channel claims they appealed the decision, to which they apparently received this response from Twitter (translated from German):
“After further review, we have unbanned your account as it does not appear to violate the Twitter Rules. Your account has now been [un]blocked. We thank you for your patience and apologize for any inconvenience. Please note that it may take 24 to 48 hours for your following and follower counts to return to normal.”
Several accounts we reported, including a group of “streamteam” accounts, which are dedicated to reposting content by Identitarian leader Martin Sellner from other platforms, were all found to violate Twitter’s “hateful conduct” rule. Or so we thought. We received responses from Twitter claiming they found violations, only to have them reinstated shortly after. With Sellner deplatformed, it’s irresponsible to allow accounts created for the sole purpose of spreading his message to stay on the platform. Sellner and GI have a connection to the Christchurch shooter, including exchanging emails and accepting a 1,500 euro donation to his organization, Identitäre Bewegung Österreichs (Identitarian Movement Austria, IBÖ).
Twitter permanently suspended several accounts related to Sellner and the Identitarian movement before allowing them back (Source: Twitter)
The reinstatement of these accounts comes after a pushback by Identitarian influencers and their followers across social media. Comments on Twitter were asking Musk to “control [his] CEO,” using the hashtag #FreeSellner in relation to Martin Sellner’s suspension, and criticizing Musk’s stance on free speech. On Telegram, former IB Vienna leader Philipp Huemer, owner of Identitarian news outlet Heimatkurier also weighed in. In his tweet about the takedowns, Huemer claims that GPAHE “acts as an arm of a well-known censorship octopus.” References to a wide-reaching “octopus” having control over the world is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda which claimed that Jews were orchestrating a plan for world domination. The conspiracy remains popular today, and often manifests in extremists denouncing “globalism” and purporting the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which they claim is laid at the hands of globalists and Jews.
This isn’t the first time Twitter’s performatively, and temporarily, deplatformed hateful accounts. GPAHE was previously successful in deplatforming far-right and neo-Nazi Portuguese accounts on Twitter, but “Racismo Contra Europeus” (Racism Against Europeans), Afonso Gonçalves, leader of the white nationalist movement Reconquista, and bigoted Chega “influencer” Gonçalo Sousa were all reinstated
Now, with Thaïs and others already back on the platform, it’s obvious that Twitter still isn’t taking threats related to the far-right seriously. With disinformation rife on Twitter, Musk sharing advertising revenue with accounts posting neo-Nazi propaganda, and extreme antisemitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric surging online and offline, Twitter can play a role in diffusing the spread of disinformation and violent rhetoric. It seemed with these accounts’ initial suspensions that there are those in the company still dedicated to the mitigation of harm. Unfortunately, this desire to protect Twitter’s users pales in comparison with Musk’s desire to stamp his own ideology on the platform.
Accounts associated with the Identitarian movement also remain active on Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube, with YouTube being the worst.