Leslie Jones’ Website Hack Makes The Need For Change Online More Urgent Than Ever
Just when her luck was seemingly turning around, Internet trolls had to go after Leslie Jones yet again. The Ghostbusters star recently returned from Rio, where she was invited to watch the Olympics, thanks to her amusing tweets about the games. This felt like a gold medal level victory, considering she had previously taken a social media hiatus after online abuse became too much. Unfortunately, that kind of viciousness came back in full force on Wednesday. According to multiple sources, Jones' website was hacked in the ultimate invasion of privacy, including leaking of nude photos and her personal identification information. In case it wasn't clear enough before, something needs to change. No one deserves such abuse.
That's not to say there haven't been efforts made to fix things, and that includes Jones' situation specifically. Last month, fellow celebs rallied around Jones following the social media attacks. Plus, the Saturday Night Live alum had a meeting with Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. As a result, Twitter blocked Milo Yiannopoulos, who was suspected to have started the attacks against Jones, according to BuzzFeed News. (BuzzFeed also reported that Yiannopoulos said in response to his suspension, "Anyone who believes in free speech was sent a very powerful message today, which is that you’re not welcome on Twitter.”) In a statement, Dorsey said others were blocked too:
"This type of abusive behavior is not permitted on Twitter, and we've taken action on many of the accounts reported to us by both Leslie and others... We realize we still have a lot of work in front of us before Twitter is where it should be on how we handle these issues."
That last part couldn't be more true — more work needs to be done. While Twitter isn't solely responsible and internet trolls will always exist, there has to be a more effective way in curbing the abuse and silencing such hate speech. This latest instance shows blocking a few accounts just isn't enough.
It's also a shame that the website hack happened so soon after steps were taken to try and amend a similar issue. In fact, this is arguably the most vicious attack yet. Jones' professional website was reportedly edited to include her passport, driver's license, and nude photos, along with a video of Harambe, the now-famous gorilla that was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in May. While Harambe has become an Internet legend and punchline, comparing an actual human-being to the gorilla is unacceptable. She was first called Harambe by Twitter users when Ghostbusters came out and it's hard to deny the racist undertones. As for the reported nude photo leaks, don't even get me started on why that's wrong. No one's personal photos, especially ones that are so private, deserve to be exploited or leaked — ever.
The fact that Jones continues to rise up and speak out may be exactly why the internet trolls only try to push her down further. It's the classic middle-school bully scenario, where when someone doesn't get their way, they just get more and more aggressive. Leaking private photos and personal info is just another step in trying to take down the star. It's sickening that it's come to this in the first place.
As for why she's facing such vicious bullying, there's no excusable reason for such behavior. All Jones did was star in a Ghostbusters remake, which hurt some people's egos, since it replaced the previously male-dominated movie with some pretty awesome female leads. Since when is that a reason to try and ruin someone's life?
No further info has been released about the website hack or who was behind it, but it's clear this behavior is unacceptable. While I don't know the solution firsthand, there must be some way to change the culture — or at least curb the abuse. Women, especially women of color, are targeted online on a daily basis, but such attacks are only forced into the spotlight when it happens to a star.
Regardless of who it happens to, this kind of abuse is absolutely unacceptable. This needs to be the last straw.