Twitter Promotes Transphobic Tweets From 4Channer Impersonating Feminist Activist
Today in "total garbage."
Hi friends, someone has created a Twitter account impersonating me and tweeting hateful comments. Account suspended, thanks for your help x
— Caitlin Roper (@caitlin_roper) May 20, 2015
Twitter has recently amped up efforts to prevent harassment, but terrible tweets promoted yesterday from a duplicate account indicate several areas where the platform still needs major improvements. [TW for transphobia, suicide and graphic language.]
Yesterday morning several transphobic tweets were promoted from an account impersonating Caitlin Roper, an Australian feminist activist with the organization Collective Shout who has been on the receiving end of online abuse campaigns in the past.
Twitter soon suspended the account, telling The Verge:
Twitter does not allow the promotion of hate content, including hate speech against a group based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Once this instance was flagged, we immediately suspended the account and stopped the campaign.
A 4Chan user took credit for the tweets just before noon yesterday, a week after posting a message outlining his plan to use a “feminazi” account to “send out ‘kill yourself’ messages to trannies.”
Twitter’s Tweet Engagement policy allows users to target promoted tweets to be seen by specific demographics such as a certain accounts’ followers; in the post, the 4Channer claimed to have directed the sponsored tweets at transgender users: “It supposedly cost me per follower, but I never got charged. Overall, definitely worth $25.” (The Daily Dot and Collective Shout have more detailed info on the graphic 4Chan statement.)
Roper, who unfortunately has experience with being impersonated by trolls, spoke to The Mary Sue via email about 4Chan and how she thinks Twitter can prevent abuse of its platform in the future:
I’ve had a long history of being targeted online- often it’s rape threats and threats of violence in response to my activism with grassroots org Collective Shout. Last year, we ran a successful campaign to get video game Grand Theft Auto V out of Australian Kmart and Target department stores on the basis of its extreme violence against women. We received a lot of backlash for this campaign- here’s some examples here.
It was soon after that I found my name and photo on a 4chan site, discussing strategies for targeting me. So it wasn’t a great surprise to learn that it was a member of 4chan trying to target me in this way.
It’s upsetting to be caught up in this, for the damage to my reputation and to see such hateful words alongside my name. I’ve been encouraged to stop using social media by police, but this is what these men want- to shut us up, to silence women who challenge men’s violence against women and the sexual objectification of women. I have no intention of stopping my work.
Twitter needs to implement systems where users who utilise their platform to commit criminal acts, to incite violence and make threats are barred from the site. It’s not enough to simply suspend an account because anyone can just open a new one in a couple of minutes. Offending accounts should have their email addresses flagged and should not be allowed access to the site.
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