Twitter Changes Its Policies after Robin William's Daughter Zelda Bullied Off Web by Hateful Remarks

( [email protected] ) Aug 15, 2014 11:39 AM EDT
Twitter has announced it will change its policies

Officials from Twitter have realized online bullying is no joke, announcing they will change their policies to crackdown on harassment.

Following the revelation that her father, Robin Williams, had committed suicide, his 25-year-old daughter was subjected to so many hateful messages that she quit social media all together.

Zelda Williams said she could not bear the messages and would stay off of Twitter and Instagram for a "good long time." She also encouraged her Twitter followers to petition the company to block two accounts that were responsible for the majority of the hateful comments.

Mere days following the tragic event, Twitter removed the two accounts from their site, and vice president of trust and safety released a statement via the Washington Post:

"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."

While it is still unclear as to how the popular social media site plans to improve their policies, many critics feel changes should have been implemented much sooner.

"Online abuse is a rampant, horrible thing," says media analyst Kristin Johnson. "Young girls in particular are susceptible to it, and very little is done to monitor or control what is said online. It should not have taken such a high-profile event like the death of Williams to bring this to Twitter's attention."

Soraya Chemaly, a media critic and feminist activist who has worked with Facebook to protect victims of online abuse also commented on the prevalence of online abuse.

"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," she said.

She added that Twitter's loyalty to freedom of expression works negatively in relation to online abuse. "[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.

"As is often the case, it is Williams, the target of abuse, and not her abusers, who's left Twitter," she said.


Zelda Williams and Robin Wiliams



Tags : Twitter, Robin Williams, social media, online abuse, Zelda Williams