Cyberbullies have done it again.
In a series of sign-off tweets, the Australian artist said that the “hatred and pettiness” she sees online is making her an angry person and a disservice to her fans. From now on, she said, her account will be run by her managers.
In her final tweet, Ms. Azalea called the Internet the “ugliest reflection of man kind there is.”
The pop star's decision came after paparazzi photos of her on vacation leaked online, drawing body shaming insults and other hateful remarks from netizens.
“[A]pparently it’s ... unheard of to be a woman and have cellulite,” she wrote.
Other personalities, also citing harassment, have recently sworn off social media.
Zelda Williams, daughter of the late comedian Robin Williams, deleted her Twitter account and abandoned Instagram after Internet trolls sent her hurtful messages and taunted her with digitally altered photos of her father.
“In this difficult time, please try to be respectful of the accounts of myself, my family and my friends,” Ms. Williams wrote, according to Us Weekly.
“Mining our accounts for photos of dad, or judging me on the number of them is cruel and unnecessary,” she added.
Musical artist Adele, Sports Illustrated model Chrissy Teigan, and actor Jennifer Love Hewitt are among the celebrities to have quit Twitter over the years because of online harassment and cyberbullying, Yahoo reported. (Some of them have since returned, the article said).
But one need not be famous to be a target on social media. One need not even be young, though teenagers committing suicide is easily one of the worst consequences of online abuse.
In a recent piece for The New York Times, journalist Jon Ronson examined the implications online shaming, insults, and threats can have on the lives of average, everyday people – folks who lost jobs, friends, and self-esteem because of a misplaced joke, racist comment, or a thoughtless photo posted online.
During his interviews with victims, Mr. Ronson marveled "at the disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment."
“The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow – deeply confused and traumatized,” he wrote.
Thankfully, the fact hasn’t gone unnoticed. Late last year, Twitter began its rollout of tools designed to fight online harassment, letting users report abusive behavior and report coordinated attacks against individuals, according to The Washington Post.
A recent Coca-Cola campaign exhorts netizens to ditch the negative and #MakeItHappy.
Sites dedicated to spreading awareness of and ultimately ending cyberbullying have sprung up around the world; StopBullying.gov, the US government’s program, and DeleteCyberbullying.eu, a European initiative, are among them.
Another is Crash Override, an “online harassment task force” run by game developer Zoe Quinn and producer Alex Lifschitz, both of whom have experienced online abuse firsthand.
The site, which went live in January, connects victims to on-call experts in law, information security, counseling, law enforcement in an effort to help them overcome the trauma and take action for themselves.
"[I]t’s about trying to figure out how to move forward, how to make sense of it,” Ms. Quinn told Wired.
“So much of our control over our own lives has been taken away from us,” she added. “This is one way we can take it back, to decide what happens to us, and try to help other people decide what happens to them.”