Twitter Suspends Martin Shkreli For Harassment Of Freelance Journalist: Here's What Happened

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Martin Shkreli, who became infamous as the so-called Pharma Bro who jacked up the price of an AIDS treatment drug by 5,000 percent, has been suspended on Twitter.

Shkreli’s suspension on Twitter followed his online harassment of freelance journalist Lauren Duca, the writer of the widely read opinion piece titled “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America,” which was published on Teen Vogue in December.

Shkreli’s Harassment Of Duca

Twitter has confirmed that the temporary suspension of Shkreli’s account, which was applied in the early afternoon of Jan. 8, was related to his harassment of Duca. However, there were no further details given, with a spokesperson for the social network declining to be directly quoted on the matter.

What kind of harassment did Shkreli do against Duca? First of all, he sent a direct message on Twitter to the freelance journalist to ask her if she could be his date for the inauguration of President-elect Trump. Duca posted a screenshot of the message on Twitter, replying to the invitation with “I would rather eat my own organs.”

Following the message, Shkreli added a line on his Twitter profile that said he had a small crush on Duca, and changed the image of his profile to an edited picture of Duca with her husband, with Shkreli’s face edited onto the face of Duca’s husband. This prompted several followers of Shkreli to come up with their own doctored images of Shkreli and Duca.

It did not end there, as Shkreli even changed his banner to a photo collage of several pictures of Duca, featuring lyrics from the 1994 single of John Michael Montgomery, “I Swear.” Shkreli tweeted that he has also purchased marrymelauren.com.

Statement From Shkreli On Duca’s Harassment

When The Verge contacted Shkreli shortly before he had his Twitter account suspended, he said that he did not consider his actions to be a form of harassment and against Duca’s will, as the freelance journalist has not responded to his messages nor has she told him to stop what he was doing.

Shkreli added that the collage of pictures and edited images were similar to what anybody could do for “Justin Bieber or any other celebrity.”

Twitter Takes Action

According to Twitter, Shkreli will need to change certain parts of his account on the platform before he can be reinstated.

“The Twitter Rules prohibit targeted harassment, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies,” said a spokesperson of the social network to Business Insider, who added the Shkreli’s account on the Twitter-owned live video streaming app Periscope, received the same suspension.

Duca told the publication that Shkreli’s targeted harassment against her made him deserve to have his Twitter account suspended. Duca, however, added that she thinks it is unfortunate that her case is only getting attention because of the high-profile Shkreli, as trolling looks like it is now an automatic occupational hazard for female reporters.

Shkreli, meanwhile, refused to comment on the matter.



Harassment On Twitter

Online harassment on Twitter has been one of the social network’s biggest problems. The website has rolled out features to help fight against the issue, but more needs to be done, with the problem being tagged by users as one of the top items to fix and improve on Twitter for the year.

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