Twitter suspends ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli as its trolling problem continues

Martin Shkreli, a.k.a. “pharma bro” for jacking up the price of a life-saving drug and being unrepentant about it, was suspended from Twitter over the weekend.

The controversial Shkreli, who has tweeted his disdain about U.S. lawmakers, Democrats, journalists and more, was finally done in by his harassment of journalist Lauren Duca. Duca, a freelance writer who has received threats after writing a widely read op-ed piece titled “Donald Trump is gaslighting America,” recently became a Shkreli target. On Twitter, he asked her to be his date to Trump’s inauguration — to which she replied that she would rather eat her own organs — and updated his bio to mention his “crush on her,” complete with a Photoshopped picture of him with her. Duca called all that to the attention of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, as shown in her tweet below.

“The Twitter Rules prohibit targeted harassment, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies,” a Twitter spokesman told SiliconBeat when asked about Shkreli’s suspension. The spokesman confirmed other reports that the suspension is temporary, and that Shkreli could get his account reinstated if he appeals and makes changes to his account.

The Shkreli suspension is just another headache for Twitter, which has struggled for years with how to deal with hatred and harassment on its platform. Other notable account suspensions include that of figures popular with white supremacists, including Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos, who’s also popular with the woman-hating crowd.

Duca addressed this wider issue in a tweet, noting that it’s not just a Twitter problem. She also tweeted that she’s continuing to receive threats.

Twitter didn’t invent trolling, of course, but it sure has become famous as the platform for it — so much so that the San Francisco company reportedly failed to attract any bidders last year because of the problem. Now it’s dealing with yet another high-profile example of it, and it’s hard to see how the cycle will end.


Photo: Martin Shkreli smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in February 2016 on his former company’s decision to raise the price of a lifesaving medicine. Twitter cited harassment when asked Jan. 9, 2017, why Shkreli’s account had been suspended from the platform. (Susan Walsh/AP)


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