The decision by Robin Williams' daughter Zelda to abandon her online social media accounts in disgust has prompted Twitter to explore how it handles such situations. She said she was shaken after receiving "cruel and unnecessary" messages following her father's death.
Zelda Williams, 25, wrote Tuesday that she was stepping away from her Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram accounts "for a good long time, maybe forever." Posting on Instagram, she wrote, "I will be leaving this account for a [bit] while I heal and decide if I'll be deleting it or not."
Well-wishers and fans online rallied to Zelda's defense, and the accounts of both alleged bullies were suspended by Wednesday. Facebook, which also owns Instagram, said the photo violated its policy and was "being actively flagged and removed across both platforms as it pops up."
Last summer, Twitter introduced a one-click button to report abuse and updated its rules to clarify that it will not tolerate abusive behavior. A Twitter spokesperson reiterated this in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter," Del Harvey, who heads Twitter's Trust and Safety Team, said.
"We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one. This includes expanding our policies regarding self-harm and private information, and improving support for family members of deceased users."
At least two users had targeted the grieving daughter by sending disturbing images and verbal attacks. One of the images was a Photoshopped image of her father, purporting to be his corpse. In one of her last tweets on Tuesday night, Zelda Wiliams asked fellow users to report them to Twitter managers.
"I'm shaking," she wrote.
She later took down the message and told her followers she would be deleting her social media accounts for a "good long time, maybe forever."
I'm sorry. I should've risen above. Deleting this from my devices for a good long time, maybe forever. Time will tell. Goodbye.— Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) August 13, 2014
On Tuesday, Zelda and her two brothers also released statements, paying tribute to their father. In her Tumblr post, she also addressed the Internet users who were saying hurtful comments.
"As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you've had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too."