Twitter shouldn’t be proud of this.
The social network has taken some important steps in the past year to remove hate speech on its platform, such as suspending neo-Nazi groups and stripping alt-right activists of their “verified” status.
But as Splinter reporter Emma Roller noted this morning, Twitter still has a long way to go.
The Proud Boys were established during the 2016 presidential election by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. They don’t consider themselves part of the alt-right, instead insisting they are “western chauvinists” who oppose political correctness and white guilt. They also think the fact they’re named after a Broadway show tune gives them cover.
But this linguistic fussing is undercut by their actions. The Proud Boys took part in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and said the alternative labels were just “PR cuck terms.”
“I guarantee you that like 90 percent of them would tell you something along the lines of ‘Hitler was right. Gas the Jews,'” member Brian Brathovd said on an alt-right podcast.
McInnes himself has publicly stated that all American citizens should “assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.”
Obviously a group with such values shouldn’t be promoted on Twitter And to its credit, the site has not verified satellite groups affiliated with the Proud Boys—McInnes’ personal account is also unverified.
But the official Proud Boys account still features that telltale blue check mark.
It’s unclear how the group managed to slip through the cracks—and Twitter did not respond to an Observer request for comment.
But according to some commentators, it’s simply a business decision.
Notable tweeters like actor Seth Rogen and activist group Sleeping Giants have attempted to engage with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey about offensive content on the platform, but these discussions haven’t resulted in any change.
“You can’t escape the fact that racism and harassment equals traffic equals a higher stock price equals millions in their pockets,” Sleeping Giants said. “It may not be that these founders and CEOs like
@jack don’t give a fuck, it’s that they give a whole lot more of a fuck about giving themselves many more millions, which is even fucking worse.”
Twitter retooled its verification procedures last year after users pointed out that posting the blue check marks on alt-right accounts was tantamount to endorsing hate speech.
Prominent alt-right activists like Richard Spencer and Laura Loomer thus lost their verified status. And they did not take it well.
Spencer claimed the action showed it’s “not okay to be proudly white” anymore, while Loomer accused Twitter of “eradicating” her presence “just like Hitler.”
But of course, this isn’t true. Spencer, Loomer and their ilk weren’t suspended or blocked, so they can still freely tweet their views.
The same would be true if The Proud Boys lost their check mark. Here’s hoping Dorsey comes to his senses and stops prizing profit over hate.