In a move that many online said was a long time coming, Twitter on Friday permanently banned White Supremacist commentator, former politician and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke from the platform.
A Twitter spokesperson told Heavy that Duke was banned for “repeated violations of the Twitter Rules on hateful conduct.”
Duke was also banned from YouTube last month, along with a number of other white supremacist/nationalist accounts, including Richard Spencer and podcaster Stefan Molyneux.
Here’s what you need to know:
Duke’s Last Tweet Before the Ban Was Promoting an Episode of His Podcast ‘Debunking the Systemic Racism Lie’ & ‘COVID-19 Deceptions’
Duke’s last Tweet appeared to be a link to his white supremacist podcast, which he hosts with Patrick Slattery. The duo were to discuss the “lie” of systemic racism and untruths about coronavirus.
Duke, a longtime, outspoken white supremacist, often promoted his program with explicitly anti-Semitic themes and language, including on July 28 railing against the “massive hate speech and incitement of violence against white people by the ZioMedia.”
It is unclear which of Duke’s Tweets actually caused Twitter to take action. Duke could not be reached for comment.
A Twitter spokesperson told Heavy that Duke’s ban was “in line with [their] recently-updated guidance on harmful links.”
The spokesperson pointed specifically to the company’s policy on promoting violence or threats against people based on their religious affiliation or race.
Duke Is a Former Grand Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan, Who Was Recently Portrayed by Topher Grace in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman
Duke was once a grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan. He inserted himself into politics during the 1980s and the 1990s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, with one successful run for the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1988 and several unsuccessful bids for governor and president.
Duke has also praised President Donald Trump, including at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that turned violent.
“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do,” Duke said, according to a report in the Hill.
Duke was played by Topher Grace in Spike Lee’s 2018 fact-based drama BlacKkKlansman.
Grace played Duke in the 1970s, before he started running for political office, Vanity Fair reported. Grace told the outlet it was difficult for him to even use Duke’s words for the film.
“This really intelligent, really evil guy kind of figured out this rebranding,” he said. “Obviously David Duke is a horrible person. But the role was so juicy.”
Before the film’s release, Duke actually telephoned Ron Stallworth, the real-life former police detective that BlacKkKlansman is based on, and said he was “concerned” with how he would be portrayed in the film, Indiewire reported.
The Southern Poverty Law Center Said Duke’s Twitter Ban Was ‘Long Overdue’ on Friday
Twitter has allowed white supremacist David Duke to use this platform to spread hate for far too long. Today they finally took the long overdue step to permanently suspend him for violating its hateful conduct policy.https://t.co/m5fTiWgGyT
— Hatewatch (@Hatewatch) July 31, 2020
Representatives from the SPLC’s Hatewatch project reacted favorably on Friday to Duke being banned from the platform, where he had roughly 54,000 followers, according to an archived version of Duke’s page. They noted, however, that social platforms still should do more to scrub themselves of white nationalists and supremacists:
Twitter has allowed white supremacist David Duke to use this platform to spread hate for far too long. Today they finally took the long overdue step to permanently suspend him for violating its hateful conduct policy.
While this is a step in the right direction, Twitter, and other social media companies and message boards, still have a lot of work to do to clean up their platforms and stop the spread of hateful ideologies and propaganda.
David Duke is just a start, but there are still many others. We have seen how social media is a powerful tool used to accelerate the spread of hate and how most tech companies do very little to limit the spread until it’s too late.
David Duke, former KKK leader, finally has been removed from Twitter for his unending antisemitism, racism, and hate. Social platforms should be a place where all users can be free of the #hate & harassment that Duke and his ilk regularly promote. https://t.co/JnquQLBOoO
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) July 31, 2020
Anti-Defamation League President Jonathan Greenblatt also was pleased Duke had “finally been removed from Twitter for his unending anti-Semitism, racism and hate.”
Why is it that David Duke gets removed from Twitter but not Tucker Carlson? #BanTucker
— Really American 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) July 31, 2020
The progressive super PAC Really American also praised the ban, but said that if Duke was banned, controversial Fox News host Tucker Carlson should also go.
Twitter has also been undergoing an effort to block some prominent accounts that promote the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, Heavy reported.