Trolls spread hate using Twitter's Promoted Tweets ad system
Anonymous user impersonated feminist blogger, posted using Promoted Tweets
Hateful messages urging transgender people to "commit suicide now" appeared in the timelines of Twitter users Wednesday as part of the social network's pay-for-promotion program.
At least four promoted tweets urging transgender people to "end your miserable existence" were posted using a fake Twitter account assuming the identity of Australian feminist Caitlin Roper.
Hi friends, someone has created a Twitter account impersonating me and tweeting hateful comments. Account suspended, thanks for your help x—@caitlin_roper
The account used Roper's photo and a slight variation on her user name, adding an extra "r" to the end. The tweets were taken down and the account was suspended after users reported them to Twitter.
Gawker tracked the origin of the fake account and abusive tweets to a user on 4chan, who claimed to have used a pre-paid credit card to pay to feature the messages using the Promoted Tweets advertising program. The card was never charged, the anonymous user claimed.
Last month, Twitter's general counsel Vijaya Gadde announced the company would commit more resources to protecting users from abuse, citing Gamergate as example of users creating fake accounts "for the purpose of intimidating and silencing people."
A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge that the social media site "does not allow the promotion of hate content, including hate speech against a group based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Once this instance was flagged, we immediately suspended the account and stopped the campaign."
Twitter faced criticism from its users for allowing the post to be pushed onto its users' timelines in the first place.
(TW: transphobia) Hey, <a href="https://twitter.com/twitter">@twitter</a>, what the HELL is that promoted tweet? How on earth did that just appear on my TL? <a href="http://t.co/vrPqlF24iy">pic.twitter.com/vrPqlF24iy</a>—@youngvulgarian