Leslie Jones' Response to Twitter Abuse Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

July 19th 2016

Taylor Bell

Even Hollywood stars aren't immune to the effects of online bullying.

In a series of tweets on Monday evening, Ghostbusters' star Leslie Jones harshly called out her racist trolls on Twitter.

After receiving dozens of spiteful and racially insensitive tweets that attacked her appearance, Jones usedTwitter to express her pain and disbelief at the amount of hate directed at her.

In an effort to expose her attackers, Jones posted some of the hateful, racist comments.


However, the attacks didn't leave Jones unscathed.

But just as soon as the attacks began, many others, including several celebrities and Ghostbusters' director Paul Feig, came to Jones' defense using the hashtag #LoveforLeslieJ.

In the end Jones walked away with a heavy heart.

Ghosbusters has already been the subject of much criticism for its all-female cast. According to NBC, the movie's official trailer received close to 1 million "dislikes" on YouTube, "making it the 9th most unpopular video on in the history of the site."

In a report by the Pew Research Center, "nearly 75 percent of adults have witnessed online harassment," while 40 percent of adults have experienced cyber bullying, Adweek reported.

Jones' ordeal once again raises the issue Twitter's struggle to stem abusive content on its platform.

A Twitter representative sent the following statement Buzzfeed:

“This type of abusive behavior is not permitted on Twitter, and we’ve taken action on many of the accounts reported to us by both Leslie and others. We rely on people to report this type of behavior to us but we are continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to prevent this kind of abuse. We realize we still have a lot of work in front of us before Twitter is where it should be on how we handle these issues.”

As the statement notes, Twitter relies on users to document and report abuse, meaning that targets of hate campaigns are often required to read through their own mentions to collect racist, sexist and threatening comments to prove that the abuse exists.

Writing for the Atlantic in 2014, Mary Anne Franks detailed how these requirements trap users in a no-win situation.

By comparison, the process of reporting abuse is slow, painful, and often ineffective. By actively discouraging third parties from reporting abuse of others and making the reporting of abuse burdensome, Twitter has set up a game that targets of abuse can never win.