Twitter has swooped in to tackle its troll problem in the wake of a celeb-endorsed campaign to support Leslie Jones.
The Ghostbusters star and Saturday Night Live comedienne tweeted on Monday that she was (again) being sent racist and misogynist messages. Jones, who clearly sounded distressed, also retweeted some of the posts in question over the course of a series of tweets that saw her urge Twitter to take action. Finally, she announced that she was “taking a break” from the platform due to “all the hatred.”
Ghostbusters director Paul Feig picked up on Jones’ tweets, and shared his own post in support of the star. “Leslie Jones is one of the greatest people I know. Any personal attacks against her are attacks against us all,” said Feig in his tweet. The message also included the hashtag “#LoveForLeslieJ,” which originates from Twitter user @MarissaRei1.
Following Feig’s tweet, numerous celebrities shared their own messages of support for Jones, using the same hashtag. Many of the posts also criticized Twitter’s silence on the matter, and called on the social network to take a stand on the issue. Among those that tweeted messages of encouragement were Oscar-winning actor Brie Larson, Fresh Off the Boat star Constance Wu, James Corden, Amy Schumer, John Boyega, and Olivia Munn. Check out a selection of the tweets below.
@Lesdoggg queen, wishing you well. Go through your process and hopefully you find peace. Don't let them stop you! ❤️
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) July 19, 2016
.@Lesdoggg is hilarious and strong and beautiful and she will be back with a vengeance I can't wait for you to see what she is capable of
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) July 19, 2016
Twitter once again makes us all have to state the obvious. #LoveforLeslieJ
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) July 19, 2016
— Brie Larson (@brielarson) July 19, 2016
Twitter’s uncharacteristically rapid response was kicked off by the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey, who replied to one of Jones’ tweets on Monday by asking her to send him a direct message. Twitter has now released a statement in which it claims that it has “taken action on many of the accounts” that were reported by Jones, and others.
“This type of abusive behavior is not permitted on Twitter, and we’ve taken action on many of the accounts reported to us by both Leslie and others. We rely on people to report this type of behavior to us but we are continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to prevent this kind of abuse. We realize we still have a lot of work in front of us before Twitter is where it should be on how we handle these issues.”
The swift crackdown on trolls by Twitter shows just how much influence celebrities wield on the platform. Seeing as the social network is facing its fair share of troubles regarding growth, a celebrity exodus would be a major blow to the company.
Twitter undoubtedly had to take action against the unacceptable racism directed at Jones, but it begs the question; what about Twitter’s inaction in regards to its general user base that has long been the target of abuse? Will Twitter respond as quickly for those not as lucky to have celebrity connections? Unfortunately, a number of recent unresolved cases of Twitter abuse against journalists demonstrate that the rest of us simply have no choice but to speak for ourselves.