Robin Williams’ Daughter Zelda Inspires Twitter To Change Their Policies


Trent has been keeping us updated with the news surrounding the death of Robin Williams, and one thing that’s been both beautiful and heartbreaking has been watching his children come forward and make all of these powerful, lovely statements about their father. When a celebrity passes away, it’s easy to focus on what their work meant to you. Like everyone else, I thought about some of my favorite Robin Williams movies (Patch Adams, World’s Greatest Dad, Jakob The Liar, Mrs. Doubtfire), I took to social media for a bit, and eventually—I went back to my life. His children cannot do that right now and I can’t (and also can) imagine what they’re going through. When Zelda Rae Williams announced that she was leaving social media for a while due to cyberbullying, I was actually surprised—I couldn’t believe that people were actually doing the things that I read. There are no words, and that part of loss—the public part—I cannot identify with. Spokespersons for Twitter are now vowing to re-evaluate some of their policies. Click inside for more.

The Wrap has the deets:

Twitter has vowed to improve its policies in the wake of the very public decision by Robin Williams‘ daughter, Zelda Williams, to abandon Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram after vicious cyberbullying attacks.

The 25-year-old actress signed off of Twitter on Wednesday for “a good long time, maybe forever,” after enduring an onslaught of what she called “cruel and unnecessary” messages from a few Twitter users.

In particular two Twitter handles, @PimpStory and @MrGoosebuster, were particularly offensive and heinous, leading to Williams’ decision to abandon the social media platform altogether. She asked her followers to report the two handles, which were ultimately disabled by Twitter.

“I’m shaking,” Williams wrote while asking for help from her followers after receiving messages blaming her for her father’s death, and altered images purporting to be his corpse. The site currently has a one-click button to report abuse linked to each post in a user’s feed.

That part bothers me so much. “I’m shaking.” I just cannot believe people were doing this to her.

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

Facebook, which owns Instagram, said the photo violates its policy, according to the AP, and that it was “being actively flagged and removed across both platforms as it pops up.”

I know there are people who will cry out “censorship!” and I honestly don’t know how to respond to that.

I will say that, rather than coming after women who post photos of themselves breastfeeding, or even photos showing nudity, there are far more damaging, sick, vile things that these people need to be going after. And all freedom is not free. Our rights exist in the context of the rights of others. So, personally, I’d be fine with changes being made to Twitter policies if it meant there was less cyberbullying. It is absolutely insane and ridiculous and sad that Zelda Rae had to leave Twitter during this time. I just can’t wrap my brain around WTF is wrong with some people.

So, yeah. Your thoughts???


  • Brandyjk

    Here’s what I think: I’m glad they are finally putting some effort into stopping this crap. But, it feels like they’re trying to be the hero when it’s been going on for a long time to people who aren’t famous/children of the famous. (And in no way do I mean any disrespect to Zelda Williams or any of the Williams family, I am very saddened by his death. Having lost a parent at a young age, I truly empathize.)

    You want to feel sickened? Here’s an article about a woman who’s been enduring waves of hateful, coordinated attacks for YEARS on twitter and told that the attackers are not violating rules. I think that as usual, this country’s culture is more interested in censoring nudity and (perceived or imagined) sexuality over violence. And it’s sad. I’d rather my children see nudity than a person being brutalized.

    • Shannon

      Brandyjk, ‘it feels like they’re trying to be the hero when it’s been going on for a long time to people who aren’t famous/children of the famous.’—excellent point. I agree. Unfortunately, it often takes a famous face to come forward and state that there is a problem before people take it seriously.

    • Brandyjk

      Yes, I suppose I should be glad for people like Imani who might get some relief. But I feel so cynical I can’t help but think “I’ll believe it when I see it”.

    • Jess

      @Brandyjk I came on to make this exact point! I had a friend who was viciously attacked by a specific poster, saying she deserved the cancer diagnosis and miscarriage because God thought she was evil. Dozens of us filled out the lengthy report forms but Twitter didn’t do a damn thing

  • Paul

    Twitter lives and dies on its celebrity participants, so it makes sense they would step up for Zelda Williams, or other celebrities would quickly follow suit.

  • AwesomeMargie

    I agree. Censorship? I guess so but at what price? Saving lives? Yes, then. Young people have killed themselves over cyberbullying.

  • Natalea

    Some people are so damn horrible. I don’t get it. Violence is never the answer, but SOMETIMES I want to smash faces.

  • Kathryn Marie Precious

    having them actually step up and do something sounds great don’t get me wrong but as another article said these were trolls’ accounts. How are they going about to make sure that the user behind the account is held responsible for their words? Delete one and twenty more pop up.
    Not enough is being done to change the laws, this basically boils down to cyberbullying and they should be prosecuted for their actions.
    I for one will never understand why people write such hurtful things.

  • Nathan

    Unfortunately, there is little they can do. These disgusting people will always be around. I think stuff like this is why so many celebrities (and I realize she isn’t one) either don’t read/reply to tweets directed at them or they have an employee actually man their Twitter/whatever account.