YouTube bans Richard Spencer, David Duke and Stefan Molyneux for hate speech

YouTube banned several prominent far-right figures from its platform Monday, shutting down channels run by the likes of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer and right-wing internet personality Stefan Molyneux.

In total six channels were removed from the video platform, including an account run by Neo-Nazi and former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke, two accounts associated with the nationalist group American Renaissance, and the official page for NPI/Radix, an organization founded by Spencer.

Youtube pulled the plug on the channels as online social media platforms face increasing pressure to crack down on hateful rhetoric.

All the terminated channels broke YouTube rules by alleging that members of protected groups were innately inferior to others, according to the Google-owned video platform.

‘We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies,’ YouTube said in a statement. 

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YouTube banned several well-known white supremacist channels, including those belonging to Richard Spencer (pictured), David Duke and Stefan Molyneux.  Spencer’s National Policy Institute has been said to be a white supremacist think tank for those in the alt-right

YouTube banned several well-known white supremacist channels, including those belonging to Richard Spencer (pictured), David Duke and Stefan Molyneux.  Spencer’s National Policy Institute has been said to be a white supremacist think tank for those in the alt-right

The website had long insisted that preaching white supremacy was within the rules of its guidelines, provided the individuals responsible didn’t directly call for violence.

However, they updated their guidelines last June to better address supremacist content. YouTube says it has since seen a fivefold spike in video removals and has terminated more than 25,000 channels for violating hate speech policies.

Those changes came after the site had already taken action against high-profile users who had been careless enough to cross the line. Among them, was InfoWars host Alex Jones, who was banned from the site in 2018.

Some of the channels nixed Monday also violated rules against linking YouTube videos to hateful content hosted elsewhere on the internet, the company said.

Spencer, Molyneux and Duke have been recognized for their radical right, neo-Nazi views.

Duke is a longtime Ku Klux Klan leader and is an outspoken Holocaust denier who won election to Louisiana’s House of Representatives, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

David Duke is a longtime Ku Klux Klan leader and is an outspoken Holocaust denier who won election to Louisiana’s House of Representatives

Stefan Molyneux is a Canadian YouTuber who identifies as far-right and speaks of white nationalism during his podcasts

David Duke (left) is a longtime Ku Klux Klan leader and is an outspoken Holocaust denier who won election to Louisiana’s House of Representatives.  Stefan Molyneux (right) is a Canadian YouTuber who identifies as far-right and speaks of white nationalism during his podcasts

Spencer, who is identified as a new-Nazi with having anti-Semitic views and was an activist on behalf of the alt-right movement in 2017 and 2017.   

He confirmed the suspension of his account in a tweet that included a screen-capture of a message from YouTube citing policies against glorifying or inciting violence against a person or group.

In a video posted on Twitter, Molyneux said his offerings on YouTube were erased, contending that the action was unwarranted.

‘The accusation is the usual one that I am fomenting violence and hatred and so on, which is not true at all,’ Molyneux said in the video. ‘It is a huge blow.’

Molyneux, a self-proclaimed philosopher, had amassed a YouTube following of more than 900,000 subscribers prior to his channel being removed. 

His channel, Spencer’s National Policy Institute, has been said to be a white supremacist think tank for those in the alt-right. Spencer’s videos often featured him performing long monologues about his beliefs.

The Canadian has frequently suggested that black people and other people of color are inferior to whites, and praised the idea of an ‘all white’ country after a trip to Poland.

Donald Trump Jr. regularly engages with Molyneux’s posts on Twitter, retweeting him on numerous occasions.    

YouTube said it will be taking further steps to eliminate videos that promote violence and extremism, such as Nazi glorification and white supremacy.

It also removed hoax videos that attempt to debunk known tragedies, like the Sandy Hook shooting and the Holocaust.

Reddit said Monday that it had shut down a forum for supporters of Donald Trump amid an overhaul of its content policies. Reddit said The_Donald community was banned for violating three of the site's rules

Reddit said Monday that it had shut down a forum for supporters of Donald Trump amid an overhaul of its content policies. Reddit said The_Donald community was banned for violating three of the site’s rules

Also on Monday, Twitch said it had temporarily banned Trump's channel over its hateful conduct policy. The notification above pops up in the search for Trump's channel

Also on Monday, Twitch said it had temporarily banned Trump’s channel over its hateful conduct policy. The notification above pops up in the search for Trump’s channel

The YouTube removals came the same day as Reddit yanked a forum used by President Donald Trump supporters as part of a crackdown on hateful posts at the popular online bulletin board, and the game streaming platform Twitch briefly suspended the president. 

‘r/The_Donald’ was among some 2,000 forums or subreddits banned as part of a tightening of rules at the news-focused social website, according to Reddit.

The longtime pro-Trump subreddit ‘has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average, antagonized us and other communities, and its (moderators) have refused to meet our most basic expectations,’ Reddit said.

Reddit’s new content policy specifically bans promoting hate based on identity or vulnerability, and calls for posts to be personal and authentic to prevent spam.

‘All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith,’ Reddit said.

‘We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity.’

Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, said Trump’s channel was suspended over rules violations and that the offending content was removed.

‘Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch,’ a company spokesperson said. ‘We do not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content, and will take action on content reported to us that violates our rules.’

Trump has complained that Silicon Valley platforms are biased against conservatives, despite his own large social media following. 

YouTube, Reddit and Twitch have all taken action as an advertising boycott against Facebook for its perceived unwillingness to tackle hate speech continues to gather momentum.

Now, more than 160 companies such as Starbucks, Pepsi and Verizon have all ceased advertising on the social media platform as part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. 

YouTube, Reddit and Twitch have all taken action as an advertising boycott against Facebook for its perceived unwillingness to tackle hate speech continues to gather momentum

YouTube, Reddit and Twitch have all taken action as an advertising boycott against Facebook for its perceived unwillingness to tackle hate speech continues to gather momentum

Facebook on Sunday acknowledged it has more work to do and is teaming up with civil rights groups and experts to develop more tools to fight hate speech.

The social media giant said its investments in artificial intelligence have allowed it to find 90 percent of hate speech before users report it.

But the publicity around its hate speech policies have hurt its perception and stock. On Friday, Facebook’s 8.3% decline in stock price wiped out $56 billion in market capitalization.

Coca-Cola pulled its advertisements from Facebook the same day, saying it wasn’t officially joining the boycott, but that it had paused on paid advertising across all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days.

‘We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners,’ said James Quincey, Coca-Cola chairman and CEO.

Friday’s massive drop in valuation cut deep into Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal fortune, pushing him down from third to fourth place on Bloomberg Billionaires Index and leaving him with a new net worth of $82.3 billion.

Zuckerberg responded to the boycott in a Facebook Live video Friday where he announced the company would begin labeling ‘harmful’ content from politicians that remains ‘newsworthy’.

Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation Friday as companies joined a campaign  asking the social media giant to remove hate speech from its platform

Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation Friday as companies joined a campaign  asking the social media giant to remove hate speech from its platform

Though he did not name Trump, the policy comes in response to a campaign demanding Facebook impose tighter restrictions on ‘misinformation’ in the president’s campaign ads, and on his inflammatory posts.

Twitter has already slapped warning labels on some of the president’s tweets that it deemed abusive or threatening, and unlike Facebook, Twitter banned all political campaign ads.

Zuckerberg slammed the move when Twitter first labeled a Trump tweet, saying it wasn’t up to social media companies to be the ‘arbiters of truth’ – but the Facebook CEO appears to have had a change of heart following the punishing advertiser boycott.

Steyer and Gonzalez said Facebook’s efforts on Friday to introduce new measures to ban ads and label hate speech from politicians fell short of the campaign’s demands.

‘If they think they are done based on Friday, they are sorely mistaken,’ Gonzalez said. ‘We don’t need a one-off policy here and there. We need comprehensive policy.’

Numerous companies are pausing social-media spending for the Stop Hate for Profit campaign

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was launched by civil rights groups after the death of George Floyd in police custody triggered widespread protests against racial discrimination in the US. 

In addition to Starbucks, Verizon, Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s, the following companies will pause advertising on social media platforms:

Coca-Cola Co

The beverage maker will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days, Chief Executive Officer James Quincey said in a statement. 

Lululemon Athletica

‘We will be pausing paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram,’ the company said. 

Levi Strauss & Co

‘We and Dockers are joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign and pausing all ads on Facebook and Instagram,’ the apparel company said.

Diageo Plc

The world’s largest spirits maker will pause all paid advertising globally on major social media platforms.

The North Face

The outdoor brand, a unit of VF Corp, said it would pull out of all Facebook-owned platforms.

‘We’re in. We’re Out @Facebook.’

Eddie Bauer

“In support of the ‘#StopHateforProfit’ initiative, Eddie Bauer will suspend all paid ads on Facebook and Instagram through the end of July, effective immediately,” the clothing store chain said in a tweet. (https://bit.ly/2Yso440)

Goodby Silverstein

‘We will join #StopHate4Profit and stop posting on Facebook for the month of July,’ the advertising agency said.

Magnolia Pictures

The film distributor and studio became the first Hollywood company to join the movement. The company said in a tweet it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram, starting immediately, through at least the end of July. 

Patagonia

‘We will pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram, effective immediately, through at least the end of July, pending meaningful action from the social media giant,’ the outdoor apparel brand said.

Rakuten Viber

‘Viber will remove all Facebook-related contact points from our app including Facebook Connect, Facebook SDK, and GIPHY, as well as cease all ad spending on Facebook,’ Djamel Agaoua, chief executive officer of the messaging app company, said in a statement on Twitter. 

Recreational Equipment

‘For 82 years, we have put people over profits. We’re pulling all Facebook/Instagram advertising for the month of July,’ REI tweeted.

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