Twitter launches crackdown after actress gets abused

Twitter has permanently banned some users over violating rules regarding online abuse after a harassment campaign against Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Leslie Jones poses at the premiere of the film 'Ghostbusters' in Hollywood, California on July 9, 2016

Twitter Inc said on Tuesday that it had moved to permanently suspend a number of user accounts due to their involvement in online racist abuse and harassment.

The step came after Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones on Monday drew renewed attention to the issue and announced she would quit the social media site.

Jones retweeted and shared several abusive tweets accusing her of being ugly and likening her to the recently-slain Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe on Monday.

Among those banned was Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who's been a controversial figure on the site and helped lead the abuse against Jones.

Yiannopoulos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Image: AFP.

Twitter has long come under criticism for not doing enough to police abusive behavior on the often-freewheeling messaging service.

Other celebrities have taken issue with abuse on the site, including writer and actress Lena Dunham, who said in September she had hired someone to tweet on her behalf because it was no longer a "safe space" for her.

Twitter said in a statement that it had seen an "uptick" in the number of accounts violating its abuse and harassment policies over the past 48 hours, noting it had enforced its policies either by issuing warnings or permanently suspending users:

Jones shared some of the racist tweets targeted towards her, many of which compared her to an ape.

Jones, who is also a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live, publicly pondered over several tweets what would prompt people to "spew hate."

TRTWorld and agencies