Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The day after an Islamophobic terrorist attack where a gunman killed at least 50 people at two New Zealand mosques, two Conservative backbenchers finally developed a conscience. After weeks of ignoring calls by Muslim leaders and anti-hate activists to cancel a talk by British far-right lobbyist Caroline Cox, MPs Garnett Genuis and Kelly Block decided that the event should not proceed “as planned.”

In a Twitter statement, Mr. Genuis expressed “respect” for “our friends in the Muslim community” left grieving and afraid after the Christchurch mass shooting attack. He also didn’t completely shut the door on Ms. Cox, who is on the board of the anti-immigrant group Migration Watch.

“Now is not the time for a conversation that could [be] misconstrued to take place on Parliament Hill,” read his statement. Going forward, maybe there will be a more appropriate time to host a woman who has also accepted invitations from murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Story continues below advertisement

One of the many tragedies of Christchurch is that the shooter’s radicalization seems to follow a familiar pattern. It’s clear from his manifesto and the scrawlings on his weapons that he spent time in the bowels of the white supremacist internet. There, he began to lionize the Quebec mosque shooter, and other Islamophobic killers.

In response, there’s been a renewed call for “de-platforming” people who stoke hate for fun and profit. That means kicking them off their channels and stages, whether online or in real life. Those in favour say it’s a crucial way to cut off hatemongers’ access to audiences. Those against de-platforming counter that it stifles freedom of expression. Whether or not it does either depends on if de-platforming even works.

Last year saw a slew of far-right personalities de-platformed on multiple fronts. The most notorious might be Alex Jones, who pushed the anti-Democrat “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that led to a man shooting an AR-15 rifle into a Washington restaurant. He also concocted a rumour that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged, leading to some families of the kindergartners killed being forced into hiding because of online harassment. By mid-2018, Mr. Jones had been kicked off Facebook, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Mailchimp and Pinterest.

Its been argued that de-platforming actually increases hatemongers’ notoriety, getting their names into mainstream publications like this one, and driving the curious to seek them out. So, last August, the tech site Motherboard looked into the effect of social media bans, specifically considering Mr. Jones.

Multiple researchers said yes, the immediate aftermath of a ban does lead to a small spike in popularity. But that initial interest fades. More importantly, it’s far outweighed by the effectiveness of cutting off regular access to huge groups of people.

One group studying de-platforming is Media Matters, which monitors misinformation. “A lot of Jones’s programming is impromptu, where he’s doing emergency broadcasts drunk in his house at 1 a.m.,” president Angelo Carusone told Motherboard. “Without YouTube’s push notifications or algorithms, there’s no way anyone would be watching that.”

De-platforming means losing both opportunities to broadcast garbage, and ways to make money from it. Mr. Jones was also booted by PayPal, and other hateful celebrities are having serious financial problems. One of the men who organized the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville has filed for bankruptcy; another had his credit card turned down while buying a US$4 drink. Fox News is leaking advertisers fed up with Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro, and Islamophobe Milo Yiannopoulos is now millions in debt.

Story continues below advertisement

Patreon, which allows content producers to attract paying subscribers, has also refused to work with far-right personalities. Its ban list includes Canadian Lauren Southern, who was detained for shooting flares at migrant boats trying to dock in Italy, has been refused entry into Britain and had a talk cancelled in her hometown of Vancouver last week.

In its 2017 letter to Ms. Southern about closing her account, Patreon cited opposition to her “raising funds in order to take part in activities that are likely to cause loss of life.” When balancing freedom from hate with allowing free speech, that seems like a reasonable line. It’s probably one that governments, not businesses, should draw – Public Safety Canada is currently studying online radicalization, and hopefully new policy ideas for coping with hate speech will come out of it.

De-platforming isn’t the full solution to countering hatred: at this point the volume of video being uploaded is so huge that experts say it’s impossible to erase the Christchurch video from the web entirely. Given the size of the problem, though, it’s a tool to be used in terrifying times like these.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies