During the December 18th episode of his annual “Millenniyule” series, white supremacist Colin “Millennial Woes” Robertson interviewed James Allsup. During the show Robertson admitted that when it comes to deplatforming far-right extremists, it’s an effective strategy — at least in the short-term.
Deplatforming is the process of banning certain speakers from social media platforms and payment processors such as Twitter, YouTube, Venmo, etc. in order to prevent their message from reaching a wider audience and choke off their finances.
Usually this is a matter of pressuring companies to enforce their stated terms of service, which traditionally ban hate speech and threats of violence.
Although deplatforming has been use to damage the careers of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and alt-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos, some people still claim the practice is ineffective. The usual counterargument is that the targets of deplatforming will simply move on to other platforms where they will be just as successful as they were before.
However not only does this fly in the face of the available evidence, the targets of these efforts seem to accept the efficacy of this tactic. Robertson, who was permanently banned from Twitter, remarked that, “The fact is that deplatforming does work, and if it didn’t work then they wouldn’t be doing it to us.”
He qualified this statement by saying it was most effective in the “short term,” and added that “it’s not gonna have the long term effect that they want.” James Allsup agreed with Robertson’s assessment because, he said, some people have “become resilient” to these types of tactics and moved to other platforms.
A member of the white supremacist hate group Identity Evropa, Allsup was banned from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube this year for violating anti-hate speech policies. Following these bans, Allsup was relegated to the white power podcast Fash the Nation which he co-hosts with pseudonymous white supremacist Jazzhands McFeels.
Allsup then said that deplatforming would make it harder for people to monitor white supremacists like themselves, and to understand “how radicalization works.” Allsup then segued into a discussion on radicalization on websites like YouTube, which he readily admitted was real.
Studies like this one from Data & Society demonstrate that there is a clear connection between certain right-wing YouTube personalities and even more extreme, often white nationalist, ones. Some figures mentioned in the report, like “classical liberal” Dave Rubin, have angrily (and falsely) claimed it has been “debunked.”
Yet Allsup weighed in with anecdotal evidence that people who consume content on YouTube are, in fact, led down a rabbit hole of extremist content.
Allsup said that in spite of what the “more charlatan-style YouTubers” say, radicalization through YouTube “is real.” Allsup remarked that he began watching “Stefan Molyneux talk about economics” in 2015 before being recommended videos from white nationalist Jared Taylor.
Robertson claimed this was the YouTube algorithm “doing what it was supposed to do originally.”
[The following clips are from an hour and a half long video.]