Twitter has caved in to pressure to curb the activity of extremists, including far right fanatics and terrorist sympathisers.
On Monday, the social media site began to enforce new rules to cut down on abusive content by suspending Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First, whose anti-Muslim videos sparked controversy when they were shared by Donald Trump last month.
Others who were also barred were Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, Jared Taylor, a white US nationalist, and the American Nazi party.
Twitter has previously been criticised for being slow to act on such online abuse, but has pledged to do more in recent months.
A statement issued by management said: “Specific threats of violence or wishing for serious physical harm, death, or disease to an individual or group of people is in violation of our policies.”
The changes, they say, are intended to “create a safer environment for everyone”.
Once an account is suspended all tweets are deleted and the profile is no longer available. Retweets, such as those by the president, will also disappear from view.
It is not just the account holder’s online activity that will define the regulation, but their actions in the wider world too. Elaborating on this, the statement continued: “Groups included in this policy will be those that identify as such or engage in activity — both on and off the platform — that promotes violence.”
Promising to continue monitoring the situation, Twitter said: “Today, we are starting to enforce these policies across Twitter. In our efforts to be more aggressive here, we may make some mistakes and are working on a robust appeals process.”
The company’s “toughening stance” has been welcomed by the Board of Deputies. Vice-president Marie van der Zyl said: “Social media presents many emerging opportunities, but many emerging challenges as well.
“Twitter and other social media companies must be continually mindful about making their platforms safe as they evolve. Today’s announcement is very much a step in the right direction.”