Twitter cracks down after 'Ghostbusters' actor complains about abuse

Wed Jul 20, 2016 3:23pm EDT
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By Yasmeen Abutaleb and Dustin Volz

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter Inc (TWTR.N: Quote) late on Tuesday permanently suspended a number of user accounts for harassment, vowing to redouble its efforts to quickly thwart abusive behavior and block repeat offenders from the social media site.

The move appeared to be a response to abuse and harassment that Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones, who is black, said on Monday had become so severe that she was quitting the service.

Among those banned was Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative who has been a provocative figure on Twitter for years and was accused by Jones and other Twitter users of feeding the abuse.

After Jones blocked him on Twitter, Yiannopoulos tweeted a screenshot of her page and wrote, "rejected by yet another black dude." He also was accused of sharing racist tweets from an account purported to belong to Jones, according to screenshots in news articles.

His tweets have since been deleted from Twitter.

Yiannopoulos did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

In a CNBC interview on Wednesday, he denied sending sexist or racist tweets to Jones, and said the only "proof" was that he teased the actress on Twitter because he didn't like her movie. He added that he was not responsible for other people's tweets.

Jones retweeted and shared several tweets disparaging her race and gender that she received on Monday before telling her 250,000 followers, "I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart. All this cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the shit I got today ... wrong."   Continued...

Cast member Leslie Jones poses at the premiere of the film "Ghostbusters" in Hollywood, California U.S., July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni