advertisement
advertisement

Twitter suspended a reporter over a joke, but not his threat-making trolls

Twitter suspended a reporter over a joke, but not his threat-making trolls
[Photo: PhotoMIX-Company/Pixabay]

Last week, HuffPo reporter Luke O’Brien revealed the identity of prominent anti-Muslim Twitter account, @AmyMek, in a widely shared exposé. Mek had been known for spreading Islamophobic memes at a rapid clip, accruing prominent followers like Sean Hannity and being retweeted by Donald Trump. O’Brien’s reporting uncovered the person behind the account, “shady vegan” Amy Mekelberg, whose husband was an executive at the WWE. Mekelberg was not at all happy about being reported on, even before her husband lost his job once the story came out. Her followers were not happy either. O’Brien’s piece on Mekelberg unleashed a vocal army of dedicated trolls on a targeted harassment campaign against the reporter, which included numerous threats.

advertisement

Twitter responded by issuing a suspension–of O’Brien’s account.

Here is just a small sampling of the kind of direct threats tweeted at O’Brien.

So far, neither of these accounts appears to be suspended–only the trolls with the most glaring direct threats were taken offline. Meanwhile, here is the tweet that got O’Brien’s account clamped down on, after the troll army reported it en masse:

The “DDT” is a fake wrestling move, which fits in with the logic of a tweet about a wrestling executive’s firing. Apparently either a lot of O’Brien’s trolls did not understand as much, or they willfully misconstrued it to mean something else. In any case, O’Brien’s account was suspended from Twitter over the weekend, although he managed to get it back late Sunday evening. While most of the people making actual threats were allowed free rein, the person they were threatening was suspended for making a joke that barely resembles a threat even if you squint hard at it. The dynamic at play here further reveals just how far Twitter has to go when it comes to policing threats, and making it harder for Twitter mobs to game the system.

advertisement
advertisement