Twitter vows to “improve our policies” after Robin Williams’

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Twitter vows to “improve our policies” after Robin Williams’

Postby admin » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:19 am

Twitter vows to “improve our policies” after Robin Williams’ daughter is bullied off the network
By Hayley Tsukayama
August 13, 2014

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Twitter has promised to improve and expand its policies after Robin Williams' daughter is bullied off of the social network. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Internet trolls bullied Robin Williams' daughter off of Twitter and Instagram just days after her father's death. A handful of Twitter users sent Zelda Williams messages on Twitter that blamed her for Robin Williams' suicide by hanging, as well as pictures of the comedian altered to show bruises around his neck.

As my Washington Post colleague Caitlin Dewey reported, Zelda Williams, 25, said she could not bear the messages and would stay off of Twitter and Instagram for a "good long time." She also asked her social network followers to petition the company to block two particular accounts that were responsible for the bulk of the abuse. Those accounts have since been removed by Twitter. In a statement, the company said that it will be updating its policies in light of the incident.

“We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter," Del Harvey, Twitter's vice president of trust and safety, said in a statement. "We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one. This includes expanding our policies regarding self-harm and private information, and improving support for family members of deceased users.”

But the messages that forced Zelda Williams offline are just a sliver of the types of abuse many face on Twitter. Imani Gandy, senior legal analyst at the reproductive health publication RH Reality Check, wrote Tuesday about abuse she said she faces on the service every day -- in general and from one man, in particular, whom she has been unable to stop.

This is more than a few mean comments, according to her account. She wrote that the abuse leveled at her has been constant because of her race, gender and even her medical condition -- she said she has a brain tumor which this man has accused her of faking.

She's ignored him, and taken other steps as well. "I’ve blocked at least a thousand of his accounts over the past two years," she wrote. "I’ve reported him using Twitter’s 'Report Abuse' form. I briefly considered calling the police, but, really, what would be the point? I’ve seen how police treat stalking victims and victims of online harassment far more severe than mine."

Gandy has also collected other instances of harassment similar to hers. In one case, she said, Twitter reviewed a tweet threatening to rape a woman and decided it did not violate its community rules against "abusive behavior."

"Got that?" Gandy wrote. "It is not a violation of Twitter’s rules to threaten to rape another Twitter user."

Twitter does have a system that lets users report abuse, document harassment and -- in some cases -- get bad accounts taken down. The company also last year introduced a "Report Abuse" button, after Caroline Criado-Perez, a British woman leading a campaign to put Jane Austen's image on the 10-pound note, was subjected to a flood of abuse. She said she faced at least one rape threat per minute.

As even Twitter's own statement on Wednesday indicates, many still find its tools don't address the problem. For example, Twitter allows users to block accounts that target them. But sadly, these measures don't even begin to stop persistent attackers, who often create new accounts to continue their actions almost without pause.

"While I am truly sorry for what the Williams family is experiencing during this time, I am concerned that it takes an event like this to bring heightened attention to a problem that so many face every day," said Soraya Chemaly, a media critic and feminist activist who has worked with Facebook to make more robust protections for those targeted by abuse online.

Gandy, in her post, recommends that Twitter take a leaf from a third-party software called "Block Together." The program, which is free for download, lets users automatically block the accounts of new Twitter users who send them direct "@" replies, and share their list of blocked accounts with friends. It was created by Electronic Frontier Foundation technologist Jacob Hoffman-Andrews after he read a blog post by iOS developer Danilo Campos calling on Twitter to add many of those features.

Chemaly said that Twitter's fierce commitment to free expression may be clouding its judgment on this issue. That attitude is "all well and good, except it seems to strongly suggest that they don't fundamentally care about the effects of harassment on certain members of their customer base - namely, the ones most likely to need additional protections built into the system," she said.

But if Twitter doesn't take steps to protect the character of its community, Chemaly added, everyone loses. "As is often the case, it is Williams, the target of abuse, and not her abusers, who's left Twitter," she said.

Have more to say about this topic? We take your questions every week in our weekly livechat, Switchback, Fridays at 11 a.m. ET. The comment box is open, so submit your questions now.
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Re: Twitter vows to “improve our policies” after Robin Willi

Postby admin » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:46 am

Robin Williams’s daughter Zelda driven off Twitter by vicious trolls
By Caitlin Dewey
August 13, 2014

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


In yet another demonstration of the Internet’s bottomless lows — and of Twitter’s still-uncontrolled abuse problems — Robin Williams’s daughter signed off Twitter for “a good long time” Tuesday night after receiving menacing messages from two trolls on the service.

I’m sorry. I should’ve risen above. Deleting this from my devices for a good long time, maybe forever. Time will tell. Goodbye.

— Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) August 13, 2014


The trolls’ accounts, @PimpStory and @MrGoosebuster, have since been suspended by Twitter, but not before tweeting Photoshopped images of Williams that appeared to show him with bruises around his neck, as if he were in a morgue. @PimpStory also tweeted “look at what he … did to himself because of you” and called Zelda a “heartless b****.” That message was retweeted 21 times.

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A redacted screenshot of the tweet, from Topsy. (Topsy)
@pimpstory King of Savage Lake @MrGoosebuster @zeldawilliams look at what he [delete] did to himself because of you, you [delete] heartless [delete] http://t.co/b103pIHcPK

“Please report @PimpStory @MrGoosebuster. I’m shaking. I can’t. Please,” Zelda Williams wrote in a message she later deleted. “Twitter requires a link and I won’t open it. Don’t either. Please.”

The messages represented a tiny minority of the tweets she received last night; per Topsy, an analytics service, thousands of well-wishers have tweeted their condolences to Williams’s daughter in the time since news of his death broke, and several dozen reported her abusers to Twitter.

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Freddy Noriega @elfredderino @ twitter HEY SOMEBODY OVER THERE!! ERASE THE ACCOUNTS OF @pimpstory and #mrgoosebuster. THEY ARE TERRORIZING @zelawilliams!!! DO IT NOW!!

But regardless of the support she received from followers, and the accounts’ eventual suspension, the incident demonstrates a painful, common criticism of Twitter and of the web, more generally: Women in the online eye, no matter how blameless, are constant targets for harassment and misogynistic abuse. According to one study from the University of Maryland, reported in Pacific Standard, the average female chatroom-user receives 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day; the average man receives fewer than four.

In fact — perhaps unsurprisingly — this wasn’t Zelda Williams’s first brush with Internet haters. The 25-year-old, who is an actress in her own right, maintains popular accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, where she has a combined 280,000 followers. In June, she posted an infuriated note to Tumblr titled “Dear Trolls,” which went on to defend against commenters who called her “a man in drag” and other slurs. As she notes:

Freedom of Speech is your right, but what you’ve misunderstood on your punch drunk mission to make being an insufferable [expletive] excusable is that it does NOT protect you from someone telling you you’re a racist, bigoted, bored [expletive] giddily looking for digital excitement beyond furiously masturbating and crying.


Both Twitter and Tumblr have responded to these problems; after a series of high-profile harassment cases last August, Twitter even added an in-tweet “report abuse” button to help victims flag harassment more easily. But as Williams pointed out, Twitter’s report process requires victims to fill out a detailed report on each incident, individually, which can be impractical when users receive many @-replies. The report-button fix has also not stopped calls for a technical solution that could head off hate speech before it’s sent, not after, kind of like a spam filter.

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I'm reporting an abusive user
(Twitter)


In either case, it still sadly seems like abuse and harassment are occupational hazards of being a woman on the Internet — regardless of how tragic, and sympathy-worthy, your circumstances.

“I will be leaving this account for a but while I heal and decide if I’ll be deleting it or not,” Zelda Williams wrote on Instagram, minutes after the Twitter incident. “In this difficult time, please try to be respectful of the accounts of myself, my family and my friends.”

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Sheriff Dept.: Williams hanged himself
Lt. Keith Boyd of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office said the body of Robin Williams was found by his assistant on the morning of Aug. 11. The comedian and actor had apparently hanged himself with a belt. (Reuters)


Caitlin Dewey is The Post’s digital culture critic. Follow her on Twitter @caitlindewey or subscribe to her daily newsletter on all things Internet. (tinyletter.com/cdewey)
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Re: Twitter vows to “improve our policies” after Robin Willi

Postby admin » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:53 am

Dear Trolls
by Zelda Williams
5TH JUN 2014

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


I am not a ‘dyke’ or a 'yid’. I’m not a man in drag nor a failed abortion. What I AM is someone who doesn’t have to put up with someone else’s shit and 'take it’ like I keep being told. Sorry, despite how many times it’s parroted back at me from whichever other dipshit was heard saying it first, that is NOT my job, nor the job of any other human with a pair of lips and a middle finger.

But seen as the insults have gotten further and further from the truth, it would appear the majority of you are grasping for straws, so let me help with that oh so favored and misused 'comeback’ before it’s even been made:

Freedom of Speech is your right, but what you’ve misunderstood on your punch drunk mission to make being an insufferable asshat excusable is that it does NOT protect you from someone telling you you’re a racist, bigoted, bored prick giddily looking for digital excitement beyond furiously masturbating and crying. It does NOT protect you from someone calling you out for being the skidmark on everyone else’s otherwise pristine day. You, my dear little asshole, do not automatically get a free pass for leaking all over the rest of the world without warning, reason, or even logic when they don’t know you or care to know you.

I’m afraid the only thing it DOES protect you from, english speaking douchebags of the USA…

… is the government suing you for being one.
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Re: Twitter vows to “improve our policies” after Robin Willi

Postby admin » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:57 am

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zeldawilliams I will be leaving this account for a but while I heal and decide if I'll be deleting it or not. In this difficult time, please try to be respectful of the accounts of myself, my family and my friends. Mining our accounts for photos of dad, or judging me on the number of them is cruel and unnecessary. There are a couple throughout, but the real private moments I shared with him were precious, quiet, and believe it or not, not full of photos or 'selfies'. I shared him with a world where everyone was taking their photo with him, but I was lucky enough to spend time with him without cameras too. That was more than enough, and I'm grateful for what little time I had.

My favorite photos of family are framed in my house, not posted on social media, and they 'll remain there. They would've wound up on the news or blogs then, and they certainly would now. That's not what I want for our memories together.
Thank you for your respect and understanding in this difficult time.

Goodbye.
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