YouTube’s week from hell: How the debate over free speech online exploded after a conservative star with millions of subscribers was accused of homophobic harassment

The dispute between Maza and Crowder is just the latest in the emergent tug-of-war between conservative “free speech advocates,” who often find themselves being accused of hate and harassment, and progressive advocates for proactive censorship of what they believe to be hate speech or targeted abuse.

Following the removal of accounts from far-Right and fringe figures that have included conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who most famously questioned whether the Sandy Hook school shooting really happened, YouTuber Carl Benjamin, who was kicked off of crowdfunding platform Patreon for racially charged comments made in an old YouTube video, and Milo Yiannopoulos, Crowder and others have popularized the idea that there is a growing movement silence conservative voices.

The question of online censorship has quickly become a political issue.

In a recent segment on Fox News, Laura Ingraham highlighted online censorship and faced backlash after using a white supremacist as an example of a “prominent voice” that had been censored.

Facebook has been questioned by Republican members of Congress over actions taken against Trump supporters Diamond and Silk (Diamon and Silk were also questioned and appeared to lie in their testimony).

On Sunday, President Trump tweeted support for conservatives who had been removed from Twitter.

Maza, among other progressives, argues that many right-wing personalities on and offline have used an appeal to free speech to excuse the spread of hate, harassment, and bigotry. The urgency around the issue has intensified after numerous mass shooters have sprung from online communities that champion free-speech, such as 8chan and Gab, which have quickly turned into virtual homes for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Advocates of increased censorship argue that domestic radicalization will continue to rise unless extremist content is identified and controlled online.

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