Leslie Jones, the stand-up, veteran Saturday Night Live cast member and one of the four female leads in the recently released Ghostbusters reboot, is far from being the first notable person who has left Twitter due to harassment and abuse from other users. The issue, which overwhelmingly affects women and people of colour, is a problem that has existed for years.
Here are four examples of notable users who quit or pulled back from the service due to abuse and harassment:
1. Journalist and television writer Julieanne Smolinski (@BoobsRadley) racked up about 170,000 followers by the time she decided to temporarily quit in March of this year. In an essay for New York Magazine, Ms. Smolinski said her level of popularity meant she was regularly getting "weird trolls and random Eastern European genitalia" tweeted at her all the time. "I'm really tired of looking at weird penises every time I want to make a dinosaur joke or see if my ex-boyfriend is alive," she wrote.
2. In Canada, BuzzFeed Canada writer and editor Scaachi Koul (@Scaachi, 11,600 followers) temporarily shut down her Twitter account in February after asking her followers to submit pitches for long-form freelance writing opportunities, especially from women and people of colour. The response, several days of abuse from mostly men or people who identify with "men's-rights issues" included people calling her a "brown rat," "Indian bitch," someone who should be punished with rape and other expletives.
3. After racking up more than 345,000 followers, Indian journalist Ravish Kumar (@ravishndtv) quit Twitter last August, citing users' endless ability to abuse, spread lies and rumours as well as heap "baseless allegations" against anyone. "I have stopped tweeting because social media space is no longer a citizen's space. It has been usurped by political parties to peddle their ideology and propaganda. It's an online lynch mob where anyone with organizational support of 500 can send out 10 lakh tweets and declare me a thief," he told the Indian online publication Scroll.in. Mr. Kumar has not returned to the service.
4. In March, 2014, Australian editor and columnist Chris Kenny (@chriskkenny, 23,000 followers) declared he had quit Twitter in a column for The Australian after observing "disgusting abuse, obscene fake accounts borrowing your identity, hounding from obsessive anonymous accounts, death threats and even cancer wished upon your family." Mr. Kenny, who is a conservative, acknowledged this came from users on both ends of the political spectrum but women had the worst situation after appearing on television or radio programs. "Twitter provides blocking functions but, in the end, it is impossible to escape the abuse if it is rampant."