Divergent star Ashely Judd says that she will press charges against people who have been harassing her on Twitter with threats of sexual violence. "The amount of gender violence I experience is absolutely extraordinary," she tells the Today show, "and a significant part of my day today will be spent filing police reports at home about gender violence that's directed at me on social media."
"Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for what they write."
Judd called out the harassment on Sunday, when a tweet she wrote about a basketball game resulted in lewd cyberbullying. "When I express a stout opinion during March Madness I am called a whore, c---, threatened with sexual violence," Judd tweeted. "Not okay." Though she tells Today that she doesn't expect anything to come of the police reports, she still wants to send a message by filing them.
It's a message that has been receiving increasing amounts of attention, particularly around Twitter. Multiple public figures have left Twitter due to harassment, including Zelda Williams and Iggy Azalea. Judd is sticking around — now tweeting about the upcoming premiere of Insurgent and retweeting support for her statements, which have clearly struck a chord. "Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for what they write," she tells MSNBC, also calling out the need to fight against the practice of shaming others on social media.
For its part, Twitter is slowly starting to address the problem. In an internal memo last month, the company's CEO admitted that "we suck at dealing with abuse." It has since started tracking phone numbers so that it's harder for banned users to sign up again. Today, it also rolled out an option that lets Twitter users receive an emailed report about any tweets they mark as a threat. Twitter suggests that this could help with anyone who subsequently wants to file a report with law enforcement. Clearly, Twitter still has a long way to go, but Judd's actions should help to drill in the larger point that these are real threats being made against real people.