Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Twitter wants help deciding whether to keep white supremacists or not

Twitter on an iPhone
Twitter on an iPhone
Twitter on an iPhoneUnsplash

The social-media firm is asking researchers to help it work out whether they should kick racists off the platform—or keep them on to help change their minds, Motherboard reports.

Errrr: Twitter’s argument is that “conversation and counter-speech” can work to de-radicalize extremists online. The company is now working with academics to see if that is actually the case.

Reaction: Many experts are skeptical of the idea that you can just talk someone into not being a racist in this way. And Becca Lewis at the nonprofit Data & Society told Motherboard: “It has a ring of being too little too late in terms of launching into research projects right now. People have been raising the alarm about this for literally years now.”

Catch-up: If you spend much time on Twitter you know it can be an absolute hellhole, especially for women or minorities. Trolling, racism, and mob attacks are regular occurrences. While Twitter bans abusive content and lets users report posts, its policy often seems to be applied pretty unevenly. Facebook and Instagram have already taken the step of banning prominent white supremacists. Twitter has been resistant until now (former KKK leader David Duke is still on there, for example). That might be the first step.

Twitter says: A Twitter spokesperson said, “We will always have more to do, and collaboration with outside researchers is critical to helping us effectively address issues like radicalization in all its forms.”

Sign up here to our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

(This story was updated post-publication to include Twitter's response)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept
AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept

The big new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere

The mainstream approach to driverless cars is slow and difficult. These startups think going all-in on AI will get there faster.

biomass with Charm mobile unit in background
biomass with Charm mobile unit in background

Inside Charm Industrial’s big bet on corn stalks for carbon removal

The startup used plant matter and bio-oil to sequester thousands of tons of carbon. The question now is how reliable, scalable, and economical this approach will prove.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.