Rather, her breaking point — what made her feel she could no longer participate in the platform’s “profoundly broken culture” — was that Twitter has failed to acknowledge and deal with the alt-right’s use of the social network to spread its racist ideology, leading to severe, real-world repercussions: The white supremacist, anti-feminist, isolationist, transphobic “alt-right” movement has been beta-testing its propaganda and intimidation machine on marginalised Twitter communities for years now — how much hate speech will bystanders ignore? When will Twitter intervene and start protecting its users? — and discovered, to its leering delight, that the limit did not exist. No one cared. Twitter abuse was a grand-scale normalisation project, disseminating libel and disinformation, muddying long-held cultural givens such as “racism is bad” and “sexual assault is bad” and “lying is bad” and “authoritarianism is bad,” and ultimately greasing the wheels for Donald Trump’s ascendance to the US presidency. Twitter executives did nothing.
West’s declaration highlights the uncomfortable fact that Twitter has had years to make changes and reform its harassment and conduct policies, but has instead opted for a tentative, noncommittal, and often contradictory approach. And by failing to stop the rise of the alt-right in its midst, West argues, the site has helped to enable the spread of racist and anti-semitic ideology across the country.