Following the harassment of Zelda Williams, Twitter vows to “improve” trolling policies

The daughter of Robin Williams quit Twitter and Instagram, after being relentlessly trolled about father's death

Topics: Zelda Williams, Trolls, Twitter, harassment, Social Media, innovation, , , , ,

Following the harassment of Zelda Williams, Twitter vows to "improve" trolling policiesZelda Williams (Credit: AP/Richard Shotwell)

Just days after her father’s death Zelda Williams was bullied off both Instagram and Twitter. Trolls descended on her accounts, posting photoshopped photos of Robin Williams with bruises around his neck, and blaming her for her father’s suicide. Now, according to the Washington Post, Twitter has stated they will work to “improve” their policies regarding harassment.

Zelda Williams, as Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams reported, wrote:“Please report @PimpStory @MrGoosebuster. I’m shaking. I can’t. Please. Twitter requires a link and I won’t open it. Don’t either. Please.”  Zelda subsequently deleted the tweet and followed up with: “I’m sorry. I should’ve risen above. Deleting this from my devices for a good long time, maybe forever. Time will tell. Goodbye.”

On her Instagram account she wrote:

 “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…. 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… Thank you for your respect and understanding in this difficult time. Goodbye. Xo.”

Twitter has since suspended the accounts that Zelda asked her followers to report. And it may be taking further action. Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, Del Harvey, provided this statement to the Washington Post:

“We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter. 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.”



Twitter has long been criticized for how it handles abuse online — abuse that many face every single day, as Amanda Hess explained in a piece written earlier this year about online harassment.  And only time will tell if actual Twitter policies will emerge from this high profile harassment.

h/t the Verge

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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