YouTube bans Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, latest tech giant to kick him off

This time, it's for copyright violations.

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Joan E. Solsman
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Gavin McInnes answers questions from a journalist in front of rally goers holding signs.

Gavin McInnes, attending a rally to protest sharia law last year, founded the Proud Boys in 2016. 

Getty Images

The YouTube account of Gavin McInnes -- the founder of far-right organization Proud Boys and one of the co-founders of Vice Magazine -- was terminated Monday because of repeated copyright violations, according to a message posted on his account page

The account, which had about 221,000 channel subscribers as of late November, is the latest instance of a giant tech platform booting McInnes, whose Proud Boys group identifies as an organization of "Western chauvinists" that has been linked to violent far-right events. 

It comes as Silicon Valley giants like Facebook YouTube and Apple have been grappling with how, if at all, they exert control over free speech on their platforms. Services like Twitter and Facebook have become some of the world's most powerful places to find followers, but the companies that run them have faced intense criticism for allowing hate speech and other offensive content run rampant. Since a wave of bans against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August, tech companies have appeared more willing to pull down high-profile violators. 

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A wrinkle in the latest ban against McInnes is that his YouTube account termination was attributed to copyright violations. Most other platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have blocked McInnes because of their community standards, which contain rules about hate speech and violent rhetoric. 

"This account has been terminated because we received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement regarding material the user posted," the message read. 

A YouTube representative said in a statement that when a copyright holder notifies YouTube about infringement, the company acts quickly to remove infringing content as required by law. "We terminate the accounts of repeat offenders," the rep said. 

A message sent to Proud Boys USA on Gab seeking comment on McInnes's behalf wasn't immediately returned.

McInnes co-founded Vice Magazine in 1994 but left the company in 2008. He founded the Proud Boys in 2016.

A Proud Boys member, Jason Kessler, organized last year's "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counter-protestor was killed. The Proud Boys later expelled Kessler following backlash against the violence at the rally. Other Proud Boys members were arrested in October because of a brawl on Manhattan's Upper East Side, which triggered other tech platforms to crack down on the organization and McInnes. 

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