Internet television personality Gavin McInnes has had his personal Twitter account suspended along with those associated with the Proud Boys, the male fraternal organization he founded in 2016. The exact tweet that set off this chain of events was Gavin McInnes clarifying that the Proud Boys would not be participating the 2nd Unite the Rally in Washington DC this Sunday.
The rally is organised by various groups that are explicitly alt-right and white nationalist. The first ever Unite the Right Rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia in August last year to defend a statue of confederate gender Robert E. Lee garnered controversy when one of the rally participants James Alex Fields drove his car in the middle of the rally and killed an Antifa protestor Heather Heyer. The Proud Boys did not participate in the Unite the Right Rally and Gavin McInnes is known for warning Proud Boys against going to free speech or patriot events which are organised by the alt-right.
Despite it being labelled a far-right group it is a civic nationalist and alt-lite organisation with men of any race being permitted to join, the only requirement you must have been born male. It instead focuses on reclaiming traditional masculinity, preserving western culture with ‘Western chauvinism’ being one of its key tenants and members reciting the slogan the ‘West is the best’.
A spokesperson for Twitter said the accounts had been suspended from Twitter and its video sister site Periscope, for violating company policy “prohibiting violent extremist groups”. Many have pointed out the irony of this Twitter suspension coming after McInnes himself was denouncing extremism. The Proud Boys do however reward their members with what is known as a forth degree for putting their body on the line for the cause in a major conflict but this is only using violence as self defense.
This Twitter suspension comes less than a week after Alex Jones’ InfoWars was deplatformed by Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and Spotify for spreading so called fake news and hate speech. Interestingly Twitter was the only major social media platform InfoWars wasn’t banned from with a Twitter spokesperson stating that Infowars had not breached its terms of service.
Nevetherless Twitter through this suspension and its banning, suspending and shadow banning of other alt-media personalities has consistently demonstrated it is not a free speech platform. The past week has raised people’s suspicions that these tech giants are coordinating a mass censorship of conservative voices online, possibly in partnership with various governments or its associated agencies.
It has also led to the reemergence of the question do these private tech companies have an obligation to uphold free speech or like any other business should they be free to deny service to anyone it likes?
The Proud Boys can still communicate through Facebook and has several websites. Gavin McInness still has his television shows on web subscription platform CRTV. But the deplatforming of now multiple conservative media/commentators/groups has many wondering who will be next.