Twitter to review its harassment policies after Robin Williams' daughter leaves

Twitter, which has faced criticism for its handling of online harassment, has removed “a number of accounts” related to the abuse of Zelda Williams, the daughter of comedian Robin Williams, the company said.

“We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter,” said Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, in a statement to the Washington Post.

The firm intends to evaluate its policies to better handle “tragic situations like this one,” she said.

Zelda Williams announced she was going to leave Twitter and Instagram after being besieged by “horrific comments” as well as doctored images of her recently-deceased father, as we wrote about in a post. She had written earlier asking for respect:

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.

Then, she announced she was leaving Twitter, where she has 173,000 followers:

Deleting this from my devices for a good long time, maybe forever. Time will tell. Goodbye.

In addition to reviewing its policies about online abuse, Harvey said the firm would also look at its “policies regarding self-harm and private information, and improving support for family members of deceased users.”

Twitter has struggled with how best to help people harassed on its service. It has faced user complaints that it has been lax in its approach to online harassment. Currently Twitter users must fill out a form reporting abuse.

Recently, some have used the hashtag #askcostolo to press Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to make changes, as Think Progress reported.

Above: The San Francisco Giants honor actor Robin Williams before their game against the Chicago White Sox at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Michelle Quinn Michelle Quinn (139 Posts)

Michelle Quinn is a Business Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. Prior to her current role, she was the Silicon Valley correspondent at Politico covering tech policy and politics. She has also covered the tech industry at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She was a blogger for the New York Times.