- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tila Tequila, a Vietnamese-American model who gained fame more than a decade ago due largely to her social media presence, has been suspended from Twitter after making waves over the weekend during an alt-right conference in Washington, D.C.

The social media star’s verified Twitter account was suspended Monday following her appearance at an event put on by the National Policy Institute, a white nationalism group, and her posting afterwards of a photograph giving a Nazi salute.

Twitter does not comment on individual users for privacy and security reasons. Last week, however, the social media service suspended several accounts affiliated with the so-called alt-right, including the National Policy Institute’s account and that of its founder, Richard Spencer, amid a broader effort aimed at purging the microblogging platform of hate speech.

The National Policy Institute, a think tank dedicated to “the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world,” had billed Ms. Tequila as a special guest during a “casual, colorful and irreverent gathering” it hosted Friday at a D.C. restaurant in conjunction with its weekend conference in the nation’s capital.

Prior to being suspended, Ms. Tequila tweeted a photograph taken at the event showing herself standing side-by-side with two men with their right hands extended up and outward, accompanied by the caption: “Seig heil!” The restaurant that hosted the event, Maggianos, said it was duped into catering to the group, and has since promised to donate its profits from the evening to the D.C office of the Anti-Defamation League.

Ms. Tequila, 35, rose to stardom in the early 2000s when she held the distinction of being the most popular person on MySpace prior to the social network being surpassed in active users by today’s front-runners, Facebook and Twitter. She later parlayed that fame into an entertainment career that landed her a starring role in her own MTV reality show, but more recently has garnered negative attention for frequently praising Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on Twitter and making various comments considered to be in line with the alt-right.

In 2015, the entertainer was booted from the television show “Celebrity Big Brother” for wishing Hitler a happy birthday on Twitter. Prior to being suspended, she described herself on her Twitter biography as “Alt-reich queen! Literally Hitler!”

“Are you and your people ready to be rounded up to FEMA camps? Actually, that may be letting you off too easy!” she tweeted earlier this month.

Attempts to reach Ms. Tequila for comment were not immediately successful. Her official Facebook account was still active Wednesday, and boasted an image of the entertainer wearing a baseball cap touting President-elect Donald Trump.

Mr. Spencer, the founder of the National Policy Institute, had said that Twitter’s recent decision to suspend accounts associated with the alt-right was akin to “corporate Stalinism” and the digital equivalent of deploying “execution squads.”

“I think they are triggered by this narrative that social media helped to elect Trump, and they think they have to do something about it,” Mr. Spencer said in the YouTube video after his Twitter account was suspended last week. “Well, the fact is that social media did help elect Trump. This is a clear sign that we have power. We’re changing the world. And they’re not going to put up with it anymore.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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