Twitter Reexamines Abuse Policy After Trolls Force Robin Williams’ Daughter To Quit

Can the social network curb the tides of abuse?

The world proved itself to be a dark and horrible place filled with garbage humans once more when trolls forced Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda, off of Twitter and Instagram with messages blaming her for her father’s recent suicide. Twitter, in response, has vowed to change its abuse policies.

“We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter,” Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, said in a statement to the Washington Post. “We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one. This includes expanding our policies regarding self-harm and private information, and improving support for family members of deceased users.”

Mashable reports that the accounts that had been harassing Williams — sending her Photoshopped photos of her father with bruises on his neck, among other things — have since been suspended.

Williams had previously asked her followers to report those accounts, and posted a statement to Tumblr thanking her supporters and calling out those spewing negativity.

“As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car,” she wrote. “Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too.”

She also posted a statement to Instagram along with a photo of a butterfly before making the account private. Mashable has the full text:

I will be leaving this account for a but while I heal and decide if I’ll be deleting it or not. In this difficult time, please try to be respectful of the accounts of myself, my family and my friends. Mining our accounts for photos of dad, or judging me on the number of them is cruel and unnecessary. There are a couple throughout, but the real private moments I shared with him were precious, quiet, and believe it or not, not full of photos or ‘selfies’. I shared him with a world where everyone was taking their photo with him, but I was lucky enough to spend time with him without cameras too. That was more than enough, and I’m grateful for what little time I had. My favorite photos of family are framed in my house, not posted on social media, and they ‘ll remain there. They would’ve wound up on the news or blogs then, and they certainly would now. That’s not what I want for our memories together. Thank you for your respect and understanding in this difficult time. Goodbye. Xo

It remains to be seen what Twitter will do to alter its policy, which basically suggests that users block other users for offending language — or report threats to law enforcement officials.

Senior writer/editor at MTV News. Former Mashable associate editor & CNN columnist. "Stuff Hipsters Hate" co-writer. Moshpit fan.
@BrennaEhrlich