We all know there’s some fairly horrible stuff that goes on on social networks.
Sadly many have used the detachment of sites like Facebook and Twitter to say hateful things that they would never be brave enough to say to another living person’s face.
But a Twitter troll went one step further yesterday, not only describing transgender people as “deformed freaks” who should kill themselves, but using the paid-for Promoted Tweets service of Twitter to make sure that the messages appeared in as many people’s timelines as possible.
Oh, and to cap it all, they did all this from a “cloned” account, purporting to be that of an Australian feminist campaigner – presumably in the hope that any outrage would be flung in her direction.
Here are a couple of the abusive messages that were pushed through Twitter’s paid for advertising service from an account named @Caitlin_Roperr (note the two “r”s at the end of the userid):
Trannies, getting surgery won’t change your gender. It will only turn you into a deformed freak. End your miserable existence. Kill yourself
Trannies, your families never loved you. You are living a lie & you know it. End your miserable existence. Commit suicide now.
All highly unpleasant stuff, and one can only imagine the sick mind that came up with the messages – let alone decided to implicate the real Caitlin Roper (whose true account is @Caitlin_Roper)
In a blog post last year on The Guardian, the real Caitlin Roper described how she had been the victim of abusive online attacks by a male activist group called “A Voice For Men”. Others also joined in the witch-hunt against her.
Roper told how she found convincing copies of her Twitter profile, offering sex to men on the internet. Fortunately, Roper was able to verify her identity to Twitter and have the bogus account shut down.
It’s not known, of course, whether “A Voice for Men” is also responsible for the latest messages, but it’s clear that they are far from being fans of Roper.
Fortunately, the latest bogus Twitter account has also been shut down by Twitter, and the promoted tweets deleted. The real Caitlin Roper posted her thanks on Twitter:
But questions still remain.
Shouldn’t Twitter do more to police promoted tweets, or could anyone buy a series of Twitter ads (presumably using a stolen credit card) and spit out bile and hatred to thousands of others?
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Twitter’s own CEO Dick Costolo believes that his company “sucks at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and weâ€™ve sucked at it for years”.
Based on the experience of Caitlin Roper and Twitter’s transgender community this week, it’s hard to disagree with him.