Twitter has banned a high-profile alt-right troll, marking the latest step in the social network's efforts to crack down on hateful and abusive speech.
The account belonging to Tim Gionet, better known by his Twitter handle @BakedAlaska, was permanently suspended Wednesday. When asked about the suspension, a spokesperson for Twitter cited the company's practice of not commenting on individual accounts and referred BuzzFeed News to it's hateful conduct policy.
The policy prohibits “repeated and/or or non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes, or other content that degrades someone.”
It was not immediately clear what specifically prompted the suspension, and Gionet (who previously worked at BuzzFeed) did not immediately respond to a Facebook message seeking comment. A cached version of his account indicated he had most recently tweeted on Monday.
However, the suspension comes amid significant criticism of Twitter's handling of extremist voices, and after the company has taken steps to more rigorously control hate speech on the platform. The most recent salvo came Wednesday, when Twitter acknowledged that its verified status — which is indicated by a blue checkmark — “has long been perceived as an endorsement,” and announced a new verification policy. Under the new policy, accounts can lose their verified status for “intentionally misleading people” and “promoting hate and/or violence.”
In the past, Twitter awarded verified status to white supremacist figures such as Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally that resulted in the death of a counterprotester — a move that prompted significant backlash against the social media platform.
Gionet had often used his Twitter account to share far-right content. In the past, he tweeted the so-called “14 Words,” a popular phrase among neo-Nazis, and said “I have no problem with white nationalists.” He is among a handful of figures who rose to fame during the Trump candidacy by mixing extremist ideology with provocative internet antics and trolling.
Though Gionet did not respond to a request for comment, he appears to have been caught off guard when his account was suspended Wednesday. Another Twitter user named Joe Biggs claimed that he had received a text in which Gionet claimed he just saw the suspension and “literally did nothing wrong.”