Twitter User Suspended for ‘Calling Out Bigotry’

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Twitter’s strategy toward online harassment is notoriously flawed — and the latest reminder came on Monday.

When 26-year-old Alexandra Brodsky tried to log into her Twitter account Monday morning, she discovered she had been suspended.

Brodsky, a fellow at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., had received a slew of anti-Semitic tweets over the weekend, including one that featured her face on a lampshade with the text, “Welcome to Trump’s America. See you in the camps.”

Brodsky surfaced screenshots of those tweets on Saturday in a tweet that read: “Happy Saturday in Trump’s America.”

It was that tweet that Twitter apparently took issue with. When Brodsky logged into her account, she was told by Twitter she’d need to delete that tweet to continue using the service.

Brodsky, who has about 5,000 Twitter followers, wrote about the puzzling turn of events on her Facebook page.

“So let’s get this straight: Twitter still hasn’t suspended all the bigots I reported, but they have suspended me for calling out bigotry. I call bullshit.”

She told CNNMoney that “it has become apparent that Twitter doesn’t take action against harassers until there’s public pressure.”

On Sunday, Teen Vogue weekend editor Lauren Duca also applied public pressure to force Twitter to suspend Martin Shkreli, the infamous former pharmaceutical exec, for making unwanted advances and posting creepy doctored images of Duca on the site.

Brodsky wanted her account immediately reactivated because she’s behind the Twitter hashtag campaign #DearBetsy. These tweets ask Betsy Devos, Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, to commit to Title IX protections at her confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education and mandates that schools have procedures in place for handling sexual assault and harassment cases.

Brodsky told CNNMoney that several of the anti-Semitic tweets were from users that had names using some variation of “6 million more,” a reference to the number of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. Some of the accounts appear to be suspended, but others, including one whose bio reads “Time to finish the job, once and for all. German-American. Pro-holocaust” are still active on the platform.

Brodsky was listed on the Daily Forward’s annual list of 50 prominent Jews. She’s the cofounder of Know Your IX, a nonprofit that empowers students to stop sexual violence. Her Know Your IX cofounder Dana Bolger also received similar tweets over the weekend.

Two hours after Brodsky’s account was suspended, Twitter reactivated it. Brodsky said she hasn’t received any notice from Twitter about the reversal and she didn’t delete the screenshots. Twitter did not immediately respond to CNNMoney’s request for comment.

Brodsky said the harassment extended off Twitter, as well. Another woman who shares her name received emails seemingly meant to be directed at Brodsky. The emails came from accounts like “Uncle_Adolph,” “Kikey_McKikeface,” and “Lampshade_machine.” CNNMoney reviewed some of the emails, and the subject lines (in all caps) included things like: “HAIL TRUMP! GAS THE JEWS!” “YOU CAN PERSECUTE US! YOU CAN EVEN BAN US FROM TWITTER! BUT WE WILL NEVER CAPITULATE!”

Anti-Semitic trolling on Twitter isn’t new. Similar harassment was hurled at writer Julia Ioffe last year, among other prominent journalists, after she profiled Melania Trump in GQ. She was also sent doctored photos of herself with a Jewish star emblazoned on her breast, as well as a twisted “Back to the Future” movie poster, changed to read “Back to the Oven.”

Although Twitter frequently updates its policies on abuse, it hasn’t found a way to curb anti-Semitism or the vicious harassment that occurs on the site. It is unclear how or why Twitter decides to allow certain tweets to remain while cracking down on others.

In a BuzzFeed survey of 2,700 Twitter users, about 90% of respondents said the social network did nothing after they reported abuse.

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