‘Pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli gets suspended from Twitter

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The man who made a name for himself for repelling the vast majority of the world’s media consumers after he significantly raised the price of a HIV drug has been suspended from Twitter.

Martin Shkreli, the outwardly smug entrepreneur who raised the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim in 2015 from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill, had his Twitter account suspended for the “targeted harassment” of a journalist.

The suspension follows what could be deemed puerile behavior by Shkreli, which started when journalist Lauren Duca rebuffed his advances.

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Duca is widely known for a piece she wrote in Teen Vogue last December called Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America, a story that explored the possibility of the president-elect destabilizing the truth and weakening “the foundation of American freedom.”

While Trump may have called the young entrepreneur a “spoiled brat” in the past, Shkreli has been open about his support for Trump. The spat between Shkreli and Duca came about after the former invited Duca as his “+1” to Trump’s inauguration. Duca’s curt reply to the invitation: “I would rather eat my own organs.”

Shkreli’s response to the snub was to doctor a photo of Duca so that both were sat next to each other on a couch in what looked like a romantic relationship. After this, Duca asked how such a thing could be allowed to happen, with a question to Twitter boss Jack Dorsey:

“Why is harassment an automatic career hazard for a woman receiving any amount of professional attention? Question for @jack & also society!”

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Shkreli’s account was removed soon after. Twitter confirmed the account had been removed due to harassment of the journalist. Twitter later said, “The Twitter Rules prohibit targeted harassment, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.”

Twitter has been under considerable pressure to rid itself of trolls, but at the same time has met with pressure from critics accusing the company of censoring voices of the alt-right and being oppressive in regards to free speech.

Soon after Shkreli was suspended, Twitter was called out for uneven moderation. The criticism follows the suspension of activist and feminist Alexandra Brodsky, who also received a temporary ban lately.

Brodsky had done something quite similar to Duca, in that she re-tweeted screen grabs of harassment. In Brodsky’s case, they were anti-Semitic remarks she had received and then re-posted, for which her account was taken down.

“So let’s get this straight: Twitter still hasn’t suspended all the bigots I reported,” said Brodsky, “but they have suspended me for calling out bigotry. I call bullshit.”

Photo credit: Esther Vargas via Flickr