No-platforming on Twitter can work – and Baked Alaska proves it

Once a superstar of the alt-right, Tim Gionet has faded into oblivion.

When Alex Jones and InfoWars, the famed conspiracy theorist and his news outlet, were banned from a number of social media platforms (not including Twitter) last week, there was widespread outrage from the right-wing, free-speech movement. “What the fuck happened to freedom of speech?!” one Twitter user tweeted, “I don’t give a shit if you don’t agree with Alex Jones’ beliefs or views. This is a real problem.” “A dangerous precedent is being set. Our right to Free Speech is being eroded because some people don’t like it,” wrote another.

The no-platforming debate – ie banning certain people or outlets who proclaim racist, misogynistic, homophobic or other hateful views from digital spaces – has been raging on for the better half of the last decade. The arguments against taking a platform away from these people are based around freedom of speech, arguing that anyone should be allowed to say anything they like. But in the last few years a strain of free-speechers has emerged, ones who argue that, although they vehemently disagree with these hateful philosophies, they feel the only way to make these people’s opinions obsolete is by allowing them to share their views, and then proving that they’re wrong through debate. Essentially, meaning that no-platforming people who share hateful ideas will always fail to remove those people and those views from the mainstream. Jones and InfoWars have reignited this particular argument.

However, a look at some of the major alt-right figures who have either been stripped of their verification on Twitter or who have been banned from the platform altogether shows that no-platforming can actually work – and that these alt-right characters can, relatively speaking, fade into oblivion.

The best example of this is Tim Gionet, better known by his social media username “Baked Alaska”.

Gionet got his start working at the BuzzFeed on its social media strategy, where he says he was radicalised by the “PC culture” he was exposed to there. After leaving the publication, he worked as the manager for right-wing shock-jock Milo Yiannopoulos on his 2016 university tour around the United States in the lead up to the US presidential election. Around the same time he also began working with Pizzagate-myth creator Mike Cernovich and began to grow an enormous Twitter following. Through this, he helped to spread the now infamous Pepe the Frog meme, which became synonymous with the alt-right movement. His influence on the American right even granted him special access to the 2016 Republican National Convention, the exclusive event where the presidential nominee is chosen. By the time the 2016 campaign was over, and Trump’s place as the incoming president was secured, Gionet, under his nom de guerre Baked Alaska, had become one of the internet’s biggest alt-right stars, with the added bonus of strong ties to the White House.

Then, at the start of 2017, his fame truly exploded. He was an organiser of …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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