Twitter’s promoted tweets allow anyone to pay a little money to get their message in front of a wider audience—even if that message urges “trannies” to “commit suicide now.”
“You are living a lie & you know it. End your miserable existence,” read a gross Twitter ad from @caitlin_roperr that made the rounds Wednesday, just a month after Twitter announced it would commit more resources to protecting users from abuse in the wake of Gamergate.
Caitlin Roper, a feminist activist who has written extensively about her experiences with online harassment and abuse, didn’t write or pay for the tweet—she’s @caitlin_roper, with one “r”. Roper was framed, apparently by an anonymous poster on 4chan’s politics board, /pol/.
Hi friends, someone has created a Twitter account impersonating me and tweeting hateful comments. Account suspended, thanks for your help xMay 20, 2015
Remember when I told you that I was gonna use Twitter Ads to send out promoted Tweets telling trannies to kill themselves? Well, guess what? I just did it. You’re fucking welcome, /pol/. With any luck, I managed to actually get a few trannies to remove themselves from the gene pool today. All in a day’s work. BTW, in my trolling, I used the name and image of Caitlin Roper, an Ausfailian feminazi who is involved in all sorts of censorship campaigns. She was the one who started the campaign to get GTA V banned from Ausfailia. Make sure to harass this feminazi whore for “promoting transphobia”.
He claimed he bought the ad with a prepaid credit card, but Twitter never charged it, so he used the money to buy games on Steam.
“It supposedly cost me per follower, but I never got charged,” he writes, “Overall, definitely worth $25.”
In a previous thread, he’d pointed out that, “Twitter doesn’t check Tweets beforehand, so I made a bunch of Tweets encouraging trannies to kill themselves, and I customized it so that trannies will be the ones receiving those Tweets.”
The anon claims to be from Jamaica, and 4chan posters think that, combined with using a prepaid card and a fake account, means he’s safe from any potential legal consequences. Twitter shut down the bogus “Roper” account and the promoted tweet Wednesday. It had 5 followers, including an account called “VoiceofGG,” that claims to be GamerGate-affiliated and mostly posts racist memes.
Notorious troll and owner of a giant swastika tattoo Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer was the first to bring widespread attention to the promoted tweet loophole when he purchased two white supremacist tweets earlier this month. Twitter shut those down the next day, in accordance with its policy against “hate content, sensitive topics, and violence.”
Twitter could theoretically prevent this sort of thing by pre-screening ads, but that would take time (and possibly additional employees), and add another obstacle to customers giving the still-unprofitable company their money.