You never know when a repulsive creep will show up from a dark corner of the internet. Using the web’s anonymous nature, keyboard warriors share their disturbing thoughts, and even little children can become subjects of their hate. Recently, awful Twitter trolls used a photo of Sophia, a severely disabled nine-year-old girl to promote abortion. Her mother responded in a way every mom would, starting a justified war against hate speech.
Sophia was born with deformities on her face, hands, and feet. When she turned one year old, the girl was diagnosed with Rett syndrome. It’s a brain disorder which permanently affects kids’ language and motor functions. As a result, Sophia needs her parents to take care of her 24/7.
“She’s had 22 surgeries,” Weaver, Sophia’s mother, told CNN. “She has a feeding tube. A colostomy bag. She has seizures and choking spells because of both the deformities and the Rett syndrome.”
Everything started after the suggestion for changes to healthcare coverage in their area. As a healthcare activist, Weaver began to speak out more about Sophia’s condition. It wasn’t long until trolls targeted the poor girl. “People, they seek you out and want to hurt you,” Weaver said. “There are people who go out of their way to make sure you see their cruelty. I get people telling me to kill my child, to put her out of her misery.”
One particular attacker really wanted to be heard. They shared Sophia’s picture along with a paragraph that supported coerced abortion; they tagged Weaver’s Twitter account and sent her a direct message.
“I blocked it. I just hoped it was gone,” Weaver said. “But it was never removed. The account remained.” The mother claimed Twitter had even sent her a message saying the post didn’t violate their policies.
Time passed, but the awful tweet was still up. The hurtful account behind it was still active. “[The troll] was mentioning my name and reaching out to my followers on Twitter,” Sophia’s mother said.
The original tweet with the little girl’s picture attached to it kept haunting Weaver. The mother asked people to report it and even shared her story to a local news station, aiming to put enough pressure on Twitter to make it take everything down. After a week and a half of nonstop coverage the mother got, she finally received another message from Twitter. They apologized, removed the offensive post, and suspended the account from which it came.
Satisfied with the result, Weaver began talking about the way Twitter reviews such kinds of content. “Twitter needs to add people with disabilities as a category in their violation reporting,” she said. “Otherwise people don’t know the appropriate category to select for hate towards people with disabilities.”
A company’s spokesperson referred to CNN the platform’s “hateful conduct policy.” It says, “You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.” “All of these considerations are taken into account when reviewing reported violations of the Twitter Rules,” the spokesperson said.
Many people had been supporting the family throughout this whole time