White Supremacist David Duke Permanently Banned from Twitter over 'Hateful Content'

Twitter has confirmed white supremacist David Duke has been permanently suspended from the platform after violating hate policies.

In a move that follows similar enforcement by Google-owned YouTube, the Jack Dorsey-led social network told Cnet on Thursday the account of the former Ku Klux Klan leader was taken offline after breaking its rules surrounding "hateful conduct."

"The account has been permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter Rules on hateful conduct," a Twitter spokesperson told Newsweek via email. "This enforcement action is in line with our recently-updated guidance on harmful links."

Twitter's hate policy forbids users from attacking or threatening others based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or religious affiliation or disability.

"We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories," Twitter explains on its policy page.

The Twitter account of Duke, who used the handle @drdavidduke, no longer shows his feed, only displaying a notice that reads: "Account suspended." In May 2017, Duke was suspended from Twitter but his account was later restored, Vox reported.

Duke, 70, is the neo-Nazi founder of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan (KKKK) and has repeatedly shown political aspirations by attempting to run for high office. He made headlines back in 2016 after endorsing Donald Trump for U.S. president.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center explains in a fact-sheet: "David Duke is the most recognizable figure of the American radical right, a neo-Nazi, longtime Klan leader and now international spokesman for Holocaust denial who has nevertheless won election to Louisiana's House of Representatives and once was nearly elected governor."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says Duke is "perhaps America's most well-known racist and anti-Semite" who promotes anti-Jewish ideology across Europe.

It is not clear exactly what content triggered the suspension, however the move comes as social platforms in general crack down on hate speech and extremism.

Facebook, led by billionaire CEO Mark Zuckeberg, was hit with a widespread ad boycott this month after civil rights groups accused it of failing to combat hateful posts. Reddit updated its hate policies, resulting in thousands of pages being banned.

Last month, YouTube restricted the accounts of several white supremacists for breaking its hate policies, including Duke, Richard Spencer and Stefan Molyneux. "We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies," a statement from the company said.

YouTube pledged to crack down on white extremist content as far back as June 2019, leading some to question why it had taken so long. YouTube indicated it was partially algorithmic, saying: "After updating our guidelines to better address supremacist content, we saw a 5x spike in video removals and have terminated over 25,000 channels for violating our hate speech policies."

Twitter's policy page detailing its approach to hate says the platform is "committed to combating abuse motivated by hatred, prejudice or intolerance particularly abuse that seeks to silence the voices of those who have been historically marginalized."

This article has been updated with comment from a Twitter spokesperson.

David Duke
Phil Rushton (L) and former klansman, David Duke (R) were in attendance at the 2006 American Renaissance Conference, themed "The Global Crisis: Perspectives from Europe, South Africa, Australia and North America" on February 25, 2006 at the Dulles Hyatt in Herndon, Virginia. David S. Holloway/Getty