David Duke, the ex-Ku Klux Klan leader among the nation’s most notorious living racists, is not banned from Twitter partially because he left the KKK, the company explained Friday.
Twitter cited Mr. Duke’s departure from the Klan, which he has said he left in 1980 after quickly rising in its ranks, when asked why the company allows him to maintain an account.
While the KKK and its members are barred from Twitter under its violent extremism policy, Mr. Duke left the group and publicly distanced himself from it, according to the company.
Twitter has taken action against Mr. Duke in the past by temporarily muting his account and requiring it remove content before regaining posting privileges, the company noted.
Future violations of the social media platform’s policy will result in suspending Mr. Duke’s account, Twitter stressed.
“Hateful conduct and groups that advocate for violence toward civilians have no place on our service,” said a Twitter spokesperson. “When we identify this on Twitter, we take action immediately in line with our rules and we’ll continue to do so on any accounts and conversations that promote violence or directly attack or threaten other people based on their race, ethnicity or national origin.”
Mr. Duke, 70, joined the Klan in 1974 and rose to the rank of grand wizard of the Knights of the KKK prior to being succeeded in 1980 by White supremacist web publisher Don Black. He later served as a Republican in the Louisiana state House of Representatives for a single term before running several unsuccessful campaigns for higher office, including most recently a failed U.S. Senate bid in 2016.
YouTube removed Mr. Duke’s account on the video-sharing service last month over violations of its rules against hate speech, putting pressure on other platforms to consider following suit.
The tech site Gizmodo first reported Friday on Twitter’s reasoning for not also banning Mr. Duke, who it noted has used the platform in the past to smear Black and Jewish people.
Mr. Duke did not immediately return a message requesting comment.
Among his most recent post Friday on Twitter was a tweet alleging ties exist between to the Black Lives Matter movement and “communist terrorism,” as well as another complaining about racism against White people. He has previously tweeted that Black people are “savages” and referred to Jews as “degenerate filth,” and he has repeatedly placed quotation marks around the world “Holocaust” while talking about it on Twitter, “seemingly to belittle the atrocity,” Gizmodo reported.