Milo Yiannopoulos

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Milo Yiannopoulos
Milo 16.jpg
Milo Yiannopoulos
Born Milo Hanrahan
(1984-10-18) 18 October 1984 (age 32)
Kent, England
Nationality British
Occupation Journalist
Website yiannopoulos.net

Milo Yiannopoulos (born Milo Hanrahan on 18 October 1984)[1] is a Greek-British journalist and entrepreneur. He founded The Kernel, an online tabloid magazine about technology, which he sold to Daily Dot Media in 2014 and was an outspoken member of GamerGate. He was the Technology Editor for Breitbart.com, a United States-based news and opinion website, and is a bestselling non-fiction author. Yiannopoulos presently runs his company, Milo, Inc.

Education

Yiannopoulos was born to a middle-class family in Kent. His mother is Jewish, and his stepfather is an architect.[2][3] His biological father was born to a Greek woman, Petra Yiannopoulos, and an Irish man. When Milo was 15, he moved in with Petra, and would later adopt her surname.

Yiannopoulos attended the University of Manchester, dropping out without graduating.[4] He then attended Wolfson College, Cambridge where he studied English literature for two years before dropping out.[5][6] Regarding dropping out of university, in 2012 he told Forbes, "I try to tell myself I'm in good company, but ultimately it doesn't say great things about you unless you go on to terrific success in your own right."[5] In 2015, in an article titled "I dropped out of Manchester and Cambridge but it’s honestly fine", he wrote that he didn't believe a university degree was necessary for success, and that he believed he had achieved success without one.[4]

Career

Yiannopoulos originally intended to write theatre criticism, but became interested in technology journalism whilst investigating women in computing for The Daily Telegraph in 2009.[2] He also appeared on Sky News discussing social media,[7] and on BBC Breakfast discussing Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom.[8]

As a gay Roman Catholic, Yiannopoulos has debated gay marriage on Newsnight,[9] and on Channel 4's 10 O'Clock Live with Boy George.[10] He later debated singer Will Young on Newsnight on the use of the word "gay" in the playground and Tinchy Stryder on the same programme in May 2014, about copyright infringement and music piracy. In March 2015 he appeared on The Big Questions, debating on topics relating to feminism and discrimination against men in the United Kingdom.[11]

Yiannopoulos has written under the pseudonym Milo Wagner.[6]

The Telegraph Tech Start-Up 100

Yiannopoulos organised a method of ranking the most promising technology start-ups in Europe, The Telegraph Tech Start-Up 100, in 2011. It operated through an events company, called Wrong Agency, that Yiannopoulos had started with David Rosenberg, a friend from Cambridge University. The company was dissolved shortly after the ceremony that awarded the top start-up.[6] Mike Butcher of TechCrunch said the main prize had been given to music streaming service Spotify, even though his casting vote had gone to the controversial payday loan company Wonga, because the Telegraph considered Wonga's reputation objectionable. Butcher wrote that Yiannopoulos "was put in an incredibly invidious position [because] the legitimacy of the methodology behind the judging process ... was sat on, unceremoniously. I don’t think he should take the blame for this at all. He could only do what he could do under the circumstances given [the] overt pressure from his backer. I reached out to him about all this but he’s declined to comment—perhaps understandably."[12] The Start-Up 100 did not return in 2012.

The Kernel

Together with university friends David Rosenberg and David Haywood Smith, journalist Stephen Pritchard and former Telegraph employee Adrian McShane, Yiannopoulos launched The Kernel in November 2011 to "fix European technology journalism."[13] The Kernel was at that time owned by Sentinel Media.

In 2012, the online magazine became embroiled in a legal dispute with one of its contributors after he said it failed to pay money owed to him.[6] The Kernel closed in March 2013, with thousands of pounds owed to former contributor Jason Hesse when he won a summary judgement from an employment tribunal against parent company Sentinel Media. Margot Huysman, whom Yiannopoulos had appointed associate editor and was one of the people seeking payment, said that many working for the site had been "screwed over" personally and financially.[14] Yiannopoulos also threatened, via email, to release embarrassing details and photographs of a Kernel contributor who sought payment for their work for the site and he also accused the contributor of being behind the "majority of damage to The Kernel". The unnamed contributor told the Guardian that the emails had been referred to the police.[15]

German venture capital vehicle BERLIN42 acquired The Kernel's assets in early 2013. The website displayed plans for a relaunch in August 2013 with fresh investment and Yiannopoulos reinstated as editor-in-chief.[16] BERLIN42 founding partner Aydogan Ali Schosswald would join its newly formed publishing company, Kernel Media, as chief executive. Yiannopoulos personally paid six former contributors money that the defunct company was unable to pay.[16]

The Independent on Sunday reported that the relaunched publication, based between London and Berlin, would focus on "modern warfare, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, pornography and space travel" from August, but newsletter The Nutshell would not return.[17] In 2014, The Kernel was acquired by the parent company of The Daily Dot, Daily Dot Media. He stepped down as Editor-in-Chief but remained an advisor to the company.[18]

Gamergate

Yiannopoulos was responsible for early news coverage of the Gamergate controversy, criticizing what he saw as the politicization of video game culture by "an army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners, abetted by achingly politically correct American tech bloggers."[19][20][21] In December 2014, he announced he was working on a book about Gamergate.[22]

As part of his coverage of Gamergate, he published correspondence from GameJournoPros, an email list where members of the video game press coordinated the simultaneous publication of similar anti-Gamergate articles.[23][24] Kyle Orland, the creator of the list, responded to the leak on Ars Technica, admitting that he had written a message saying several things that he "soon came to regret", but also defending the list as "a place for business competitors ... to discuss issues of common professional interest".[25] Carter Dotson of pocketgamer.biz said that the list was indicative of an echo chamber effect in the gaming press.[26]

Ryan Cooper of The Week argued that Yiannopoulos "had little but sneering contempt for gamers" beforehand, highlighting Yiannopoulos' comments describing gamers as 'pungent beta male bollock-scratchers and twelve-year-olds' and 'a bit sad'.[27][28]

During the controversy, Yiannopoulos said that he received a syringe filled with an unknown substance through the post,[29][30] as well as a dead animal.

In May 2015, a meetup in Washington D.C. for supporters arranged by Yiannopolis and Christina Hoff Sommers was targeted by a bomb threat made over Twitter, according to the local police responding to information supplied by the FBI.[31] Similarly, three months later, an event with Society of Professional Journalists in August 2015 was also targeted by bomb threats, forcing the evacuation of an event with Yiannopoulos and Sommers.[32][33][34][35]

Yiannopoulos also hosted the #GGinParis meetup in July 2015 with Vox Day and Mike Cernovich.[36]

Breitbart Tech

In October 2015, the Breitbart News Network placed Yiannopoulos in charge of its new "Breitbart Tech" section, which he said will "be free speech central—and we'll talk about stuff people really care about: Freedom, free speech, love, sex, death, money and porn." The site has six full-time staff, including an esports specialist.[37][38]

Yiannopoulos Privilege Grant

In January 2016, Yiannopoulos co-founded the Yiannopoulos Privilege Grant with Margaret MacLennan, “a scholarship exclusively available to white men who wish to pursue their post-secondary education on equal footing with their female, queer and ethnic minority classmates.”[39] The grant plans to disburse 50 grants of $2,500 to disadvantaged young men to assist them with their tertiary expenses, starting in the 2016-17 academic year. 100 grants of the same amount will be dispersed in the second year, and 200 in the third.[40] Discussing the grant on his Twitter, Yiannopoulos cited statistics that men only make up 43% of the USA's college students,[41] that women perform significantly better than men at many levels of education,[42] and that "women's advantage in graduation is evident at all socioeconomic levels and for most racial and ethnic groups"[43] as reasons for his grant, and personally contributed a significant amount of the funds himself.

In response to the charity, International Business Times journalist Tom Mendelsohn labelled Yiannopoulos a "troll" and stated that the journalist's "scheme" was "designed to derail social progress both by fanning the flames of controversy over the tiny efforts of redress certain institutions are making towards women and minorities, and by attempting to return power to whites."[44] After receiving substantial media attention on platforms such as BuzzFeed[45] and International Business Times,[44] the Privilege Grant's official website was temporarily taken down due to DDoS attacks.[46] Addressing his attackers on Twitter, Yiannopoulos stated "I started a charity to help poor kids get to college. Response from progressives was to call me a racist, DDoS the site. They’re wonderful." [46]

Dangerous Faggot Tour

In late 2015, Yiannopoulos began a campus speaking tour called "The Dangerous Faggot Tour", encompassing universities in the United States and Great Britain. Some speeches in Britain were cancelled after left-wing activists made threats.[47] American speeches were rarely cancelled, but were disrupted by violent demonstrations.

Rutgers University

On 9 February 2016, Yiannopoulos spoke at Rutgers University. At the start of his speech, female protesters began smearing red paint on their faces before chanting "Black Lives Matter." The mostly pro-Yiannopoulos crowd responded by chanting "Trump" until the protesters left.[48]

University of Minnesota

On 17 February 2016, a student-run conservative magazine at the University of Minnesota hosted Yiannopolous and Christina Hoff Sommers, and the event was also met by protesters. Roughly 40 protesters outside repeatedly chanted "Yiannopoulos, out of Minneapolis," while about five protesters made it inside the event, shouting and sounding noisemakers, before being forced out.[49] In response to these protests, members of the university faculty began pushing for more robust free speech protections at Minnesota.[50]

DePaul University

On 24 May 2016 Yiannopoulos's speech at DePaul University was interrupted after about 15 minutes by two protesters who rushed the stage: DePaul alumnus and pastor Edward Ward, and student Kayla Johnson, who disapproved of his statements about Islam.[51][52] The crowd overwhelmingly began booing the protesters, at one point chanting "Get a job." The campus security team that university administrators required the College Republicans to hire the day before (at an extra cost of $1,000, part of which was paid by Yiannopoulos himself), made no effort to remove the protesters.[53][54] This was in addition to further protests outside the event venue both before and after the event, which featured students fighting Yiannopoulos's supporters.[55]

In the aftermath of the violence, university president Dennis H. Holtschneider issued a "lukewarm" apology,[56] reaffirming the value of free speech and apologizing for the harm that he implied was actually caused by Yiannopolous's appearance. Attendees of the talk, organised by DePaul's College Republican's Chapter, criticised university police and event security for not removing the protesters.[57][58] Yiannopoulos later stated that he and the College Republicans wanted a refund of the money that was paid to the security team that did nothing.[59][60][61] The university later agreed to reimburse the College Republicans for the costs of event security.[62] Within three days, the university's ratings on Facebook became overwhelmingly dominated by 1-star reviews. This ultimately accumulated over 16,000 1-star reviews that brought the university's average to 1.1, before the page's rating system was closed indefinitely.[63]

Opposed by Young Americans for Liberty

In May 2016 Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) staffer told YAL chapter leaders that Yiannopoulos' endorsement of Republican presidential candidate at YAL events was creating “confusion” over the non-profit's message. The memo was widely interpreted by chapters as an official ban of Yiannopoulos at YAL events, though YAL quickly disavowed the staffer's comment and promised to "not ban any speaker."[64]

UCLA

Yiannopoulos spoke at the University of California, Los Angeles on 31 May 2016 where the event featured an interview-style presentation alongside Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report. Prior to the start of the event, protesters formed human chains to block the front door to the theatre where the event was scheduled to take place. In response, those who wanted to attend the event were forced to sneak in through the back door, although the protesters also found out about that entrance and attempted to block it as well, leading to attendees shoving their way through the crowd to get in. The Los Angeles Police Department officers on duty then had to prevent protesters from entering while letting attendees pass through, thus delaying the event for about an hour until the room could fill to capacity. Twice during the speech, Yiannopoulos was interrupted by a female protester who shouted "You're spreading hate," and was subsequently booed by the audience; despite seeming to leave after the first outburst, she returned to heckle him again before finally being escorted out of the venue.[65] The next day, it was revealed that the LAPD had come in as the event was ending and told all those still in the theatre that they had to be evacuated due to a bomb threat.

Michigan State University

On 7 December 2016 at Michigan State University, Yiannopoulos and his crew posed as protesters dressed in black with ski masks or scarfs covering their faces and carrying signs prior to his "Reclaiming Constantinople" show. While carrying a sign "MILO SUCKS", he unveiled to "cheers and jeers" and left the protest under police protection unharmed. Seven protesters were arrested prior to the event and the meeting occurred as planned.[66][67]

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Yiannopoulos spoke at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee on 13 December 2016, hosted by Turning Point USA. President-elect Donald Trump appeared nearby the same day. In his talk, Yiannopoulos mocked a transgender student who had protested a UWM locker room policy.[68][69] More than 300 students and faculty had signed a letter of protest delivered to Mark Mone's office the week before the event. In response, Mone's office issued a statement noting that "UWM does not endorse Yiannopoulos' views" and "no tuition or segregated fee funds are being used to support the event."[70]

UC Davis

On 13 January 2017, Yiannopoulos' event (which was also going to feature entrepreneur Martin Shkreli) at the University of California, Davis was cancelled after protests.[71] Yiannopoulos claimed that the event was cancelled due to violence.[72] One person was arrested for resisting arrest.[73]

University of Washington

On 20 January 2017, Yiannopoulos spoke at the University of Washington. The event sparked large protests outside the event, adding to the violent protests at which brick and fireworks were thrown by demonstrators protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump.[74] A 34-year-old man was shot while allegedly attacking event attendees, and was put into intensive care at a hospital in Seattle, having suffered from life-threatening injuries.[75] The man has since been declared to be in a stable condition. The as-of-yet unnamed shooter – a 29-year-old and a former student of the University of Washington – was attending the event in support of Yiannopoulos and Trump. He eventually turned himself in to the University of Washington Police, claimed he was acting in self defense, and was released without being charged. A witness recalled seeing someone release pepper spray in the crowd, which started the confrontation. Through his lawyer, the shooting victim announced he plans to make a public statement at a later date.[76][75][77]

UC Berkeley

On 1 February 2017, Yiannopoulos was scheduled to make a speech at UC Berkeley at 8:00 pm. Over 1,500 people gathered to protest the event on the steps of Sproul Hall, with some violence occurring.[78] Prior to the event, more than 100 UC Berkeley faculty had signed a petition urging the university to cancel the event.[79] According to the university, around 150 masked agitators came onto campus and interrupted the protest, setting fires, damaging property, throwing fireworks, attacking members of the crowd, and throwing rocks at the police.[80] These violent protestors included members of BAMN, who threw rocks at police, shattered windows, threw Molotov cocktails, and later continued to vandalise downtown Berkeley.[81] Among those assaulted were a Syrian Muslim in a suit who was pepper sprayed and hit with a rod by a protester dressed all in black who said "You look like a Nazi",[82] and a white woman who was pepper sprayed while being interviewed by a TV reporter.[83] Citing security concerns, the UC Police Department decided to cancel the event.[78][84] One person was arrested for failure to disperse, and there was about $100,000 in damage.[85] The police were criticised for their "hands off" policy whereby they did not arrest any of the protesters who committed assault, vandalism, or arson.[86][87] President Donald Trump criticised the university on Twitter for failing to allow freedom of speech, and threatened to defund UC Berkeley.[88][89] After the incident, Yiannopoulos' upcoming book, Dangerous, returned to number one for a few days on Amazon's "Best Sellers" list.[90][91] According to Yiannopoulos' Facebook post, he plans to return to Berkeley, "hopefully within the next few months."[92]

Simon & Schuster Abandons Dangerous

Main article: Dangerous (book)

On February 20, 2017, the originally intended publisher, Simon & Schuster, of Yiannopoulos' Dangerous, the #1 Overall U.S. Bestseller (Amazon) [93], announced that it would be abandoning the publication of the book, three weeks before publication.[94]

In a press release on 26 May 2017, Yiannopoulos announced that the book would be self-published by his publishing company, "Dangerous Books", on 4 July 2017.[95] Soon after the announcement, the book became the best-selling political humor book on Amazon. It was immediately severely criticized by liberal commentators who considered its criticism of Islam unacceptable.[96][97][98] The book became a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller.[99][100][101]

Media coverage

Yiannopoulos was twice featured in Wired UK's yearly top 100 most influential people in Britain's digital economy: At 84 in 2011[102] and at 98 in 2012.[5][103] He was called the "pit bull of tech media" by Ben Dowell of The Observer.[104]

Permanent Twitter ban

On July 19, 2016, Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from twitter for allegedly "inciting abuse" against Leslie Jones, the black star of the Ghostbusters reboot. [105][106] In the offending tweet, he compared Jones to one of his former boyfriends.

This led to a #FreeMilo campaign by his supporters, with some writing the hashtag in multi-colored chalk outside the Twitter headquarters.

Other activities

Yiannopoulos hosted the Young Rewired State competition in 2010, an initiative to showcase the technological talents of 15–18-year-olds,[107] and organised The London Nude Tech Calendar, a calendar featuring members of the London technology scene to raise money for Take Heart India.[108]

He organised the moonwalk flash mob tribute to Michael Jackson in London's Liverpool Street station shortly after Jackson's death in 2009.[109] He explained that the idea of a flashmob as a tribute to Jackson was originally a humorous suggestion on Twitter, but then decided to make it happen, inviting people via social networking websites.[109]

In 2007, he self-published two collections of poetry. A self-professed "proper nut-job groupie" fan of pop singer Mariah Carey, in 2014, he wrote a column[110] for Business Insider explaining why he flew to Berlin to purchase Carey's album, Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse five days before it was available in the UK and US.[111]

In October 2015, Yiannopoulos and feminist Julie Bindel were scheduled to participate in the University of Manchester Free Speech and Secular Society's debate ′From liberation to censorship: does modern feminism have a problem with free speech?′, but the student union banned Bindel, then later also Yiannopoulos.[112] The union cited Bindel's comments on transgender women and Yiannopoulos' opinions on rape culture, which they stated were both in breach of the union's safe space policy.[113][114]

In November 2015, Yiannopoulos was scheduled to give a talk at Bristol University.[115] After protesters attempted to have Yiannopoulos banned from the university, the event was turned into a debate between Yiannopoulos and The Daily Telegraph blogger and feminist Rebecca Reid.[116]

In January 2016, Twitter removed the blue "verification" checkmark from Yiannopoulos' (@Nero) Twitter account.[117] Twitter has a policy of not commenting on individual cases and so has not explained the reason for the removal of verification.[118] Some news outlets speculated that Yiannopoulos had violated its speech and harassment codes,[119][120] while others worried that Twitter was targeting conservatives.[121][122][123] The controversy brought the journalist increased visibility and an influx of 25,000+ new followers.[124] During a debate with Yiannopoulos on the BBC program The Big Questions, journalist Connie St. Louis said the removed verification resulted from Yiannopoulos openly calling for an assassination via his Twitter account.[125][126] St. Louis later issued an apology on the official 'BBC's Big Questions' Twitter account, stating "this was incorrect and she apologizes for this error".[127]

In March 2016, Yiannopoulos acquired accreditation for a White House press briefing for the first time. Prompted by his recent de-verification by Twitter, Yiannopoulos asked the White House to comment on the free speech stance of prominent social media platforms, arguing in one case, that “Conservative commentators and journalists are being punished, being suspended, having their tweets deleted by Twitter.”.[128]

In October 2016, Yiannopoulos became the first individual on Gab, an alternative to Twitter, to acquire 10,000 followers. On December 30, 2016, his book Dangerous, scheduled for publication in March 2017, became the #1 overall bestselling book on Amazon due to strong preorders.

Bibliography

Book length works:

As a contributor:

References

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