Twitter found itself embroiled in controversy today after banning an editor at the conservative Breitbart website for fueling a stream of abuse that drove “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones to quit the social network.
The move banning Milo Yiannopoulos, the website’s tech editor known for provocative posts, sparked protests from his supporters but praise from others, while sparking debate over free speech rights for social media users.
The move by Twitter sparked a hashtag war with Yiannopoulos supporters using #FreeMilo and his critics #LoveForLeslieJ.
Yiannopoulos wrote after the ban that “Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.”
The suspension came a day after Jones, who is African American, said she was leaving Twitter after being bombarded by Internet trolls likening her to an ape and making other racist insults.
“I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart. All this cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the shit I got today… wrong,” the “Saturday Night Live” comedian and actress said late Monday.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded with a tweet back to Jones saying he was “following” and asking her to contact him directly.
Yiannopoulos’s Twitter account, which had more than 338,000 followers, was later blocked.
“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,” the company said in a statement.
“But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”
Critics of Yiannopoulos said he incited his followers to bombard the actress with racial comments, while his supporters claimed he was being targeted for his views.
Jones announced that she was fed up with the hateful comments around the release of “Ghostbusters,” an all-female remake of the 1984 classic.
One slur referred to the death of Harambe the gorilla, who was shot dead in May at the Cincinnati Zoo after a young boy fell into its enclosure.
The fuming 48-year-old Jones responded to the abuse by taking screenshots and retweeting many of the slurs, saying they had made her “numb.”
One Twitter user, Sara Levine, welcomed the move to ban Yiannopoulos, tweeting, “Racists shouldn’t be allowed to silence others. Twitter did right to ban him.”