Martin Shkreli’s Twitter account was suspended sometime early Sunday afternoon, following a period of targeted harassment against freelance reporter Lauren Duca.
Update: In an email to The Verge, Twitter confirmed that the temporary suspension was related to the harassment of Duca, but would not give any further details and a spokesperson declined to be quoted directly.
Duca has been in the news a lot lately after penning the essay “Trump is Gaslighting America” for Teen Vogue. In light of the piece’s popularity, she was invited to make several television appearances, including a face-off with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. That clip went viral due to Carlson’s statement that Duca should stop talking about politics and “stick to thigh-high boots.” Following her media appearances, Shkreli, a professed Trump supporter, has decided to troll her.
On Thursday, Duca tweeted a screenshot of a direct Twitter message from Shkreli, best known for hiking the price on an anti-parasitic drug by a factor of 56, refusing to answer questions about alleged fraud, and begging celebrities to listen to a rare Wu-Tang Clan album with him. In it, he asked her if she wanted to be his date to President-elect Trump’s inauguration.
Following the message, Shkreli added a line to his Twitter bio saying he had “a small crush on @laurenduca.” He also changed his profile image to a doctored photo of Duca and her husband, swapping his face into the image. He changed his banner to a collage of photos of Duca, overlaid with lyrics from John Michael Montgomery’s 1994 single “I Swear.”
He also tweeted that he had purchased the domain name “marrymelauren.com.” Shkreli’s followers then joined in, tweeting more Photoshops of Shkreli with Duca.
When reached for comment by The Verge, shortly before his account was suspended, Shkreli said he didn’t see his actions as harassment and wouldn’t consider them to be “against Duca’s will” because she hadn’t responded to any messages from him or told him to stop. He said he thought the Photoshop images were similar to those someone would make of “Justin Bieber or any other celebrity.”
Duca tweeted screenshots of Shkreli’s profile to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at 10:55AM ET on Sunday and Shkreli’s account was suspended around 1PM ET. When reached for comment via Twitter, Duca told The Verge:
“Martin Shkreli is engaged in targeted harassment, and absolutely deserves to have his account suspended. It's unfortunate that the only reason people are paying attention is because he's relatively high-profile. Trolling seems to be an automatic occupational hazard for female writers who receive any level of professional attention. That's something Twitter needs to work harder to fix, but obviously the problem runs far deeper.”
In July 2016, Twitter permanently banned Breitbart tech editor and infamous right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos after a period of targeted harassment against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones. The situations were similar in that much of the harassment came from other accounts, spurred on and encouraged by Yiannopoulos in the same way that Shkreli has been encouraging his followers. Dorsey responded directly to a tweet from Jones at the time — so if you don’t want to be harassed on Twitter’s platform I guess you can always hope things get bad enough (or you’re famous enough) that you can get the CEO’s ear.
Update January 8th, 4:25PM ET: To include confirmation from Twitter and Duca’s statement.