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Twitter Suspends Accounts Ahead Of 'Unite the Right' rally

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(CBS) -- Twitter suspended the accounts associated with Proud Boys, a far-right group present at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and its founder, Gavin McInnes. The suspensions came ahead of the Unite the Right 2 rally expected to take place in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the accounts had been suspended from Twitter and Periscope, and said it was for violating company policy "prohibiting violent extremist groups."

far-right rally organizer, Patriot Prayer founder and Republican Senate candidate Joey Gibson (C) speaks to supporters during a campaign rally for Gibson in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 4. Police in Portland braced for violence at the rally that has raised fears of a replay of last year's deadly "Unite the Right" protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Thomas Patterson /Getty images)

McInnes, who co-founded Vice Media, created Proud Boys in 2016. The group, which has fought being linked with the "alt-right," recently participated in the Aug. 4 right-wing protest in Portland.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Proud Boys and their leaders "regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists."

Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler is a former member of Proud Boys, according to SPLC. After last year's demonstration in Charlottesville turned deadly, the city denied him a permit to hold a rally on the anniversary. Kessler moved the rally to Lafayette Square in Washington D.C. on Sunday, Aug. 12.

McInnes has disavowed last year's Charlottesville rally.

Twitter's decision to suspend the Proud Boys accounts and McInnes comes in a week where the company has been highly criticized for not banning accounts associated with Alex Jones and InfoWars. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that those accounts would not be banned because they had not violated the company's rules.

Dorsey wrote that Twitter will "continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren't artificially amplified." But he also admitted the company has been "terrible" at explaining why some accounts are banned and others remain.

Jones, meanwhile, tweeted Friday that a "Twitter Crackdown/purge of all conservatives" had begun.

(TM and © Copyright 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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