The internet connects us in ways we never could have imagined, but for women it can be a complicated landscape marked by harassment and threats, amplified by a culture of anonymity largely created, maintained, and defended by men. Zelda Williams, the grieving 25-year-old daughter of Robin Williams, was forced to confront this depressing reality herself last night when Twitter trolls descended and bullied her off of social media.
Jezebel reports that though Williams has received an overwhelming amount of support following the sudden death of her father, two Twitter users who go by the clever handles @Pimpstory and @MrGoosebuster began tweeting fake images of Williams’s corpse at her. She became understandably distraught and asked other Twitter users to report the duo, tweeting, “I’m shaking. I can’t. Please. Twitter requires a link and I won’t open it. Don’t either. Please.” She later deleted the tweet, and the users were suspended.
Later in the evening, Williams tweeted another dispatch saying she was going to quit Twitter and Instagram for a while following the abuse. Her accounts still exist, but she says she’s deleted the Twitter and Instagram apps from her phone.
What drove the users to violently taunt a grieving young woman is unclear, but confidence in a cloak of anonymity certainly doesn’t hurt.