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Twitter promotes abusive tweet urging transgender suicide

Twitter has let an abusive online troll promote a tweet telling transgender people to commit suicide.

Posting under a fake account purporting to be Australian feminist Caitlin Roper, the message exposes the lack of checks surrounding the social network’s Promoted Tweets feature.

Read more: Fed up of the Twitter trolls? Just remove their anonymity

“Trannies, getting surgery won’t change your gender,” the tweet read. “It will only turn you into a deformed freak. End your miserable existence. Kill yourself.”

Promoted Tweets is an important revenue stream for Twitter, allowing businesses or individuals to pay for their tweet to appear at the top of users’ news feeds. According to the Telegraph, the micro-blogging site charges users around £2.50 per engagement to have their tweet promoted.

It is not clear how the abusive message was allowed to be promoted, but after being alerted by several users, Twitter deleted the message and the corresponding account. Despite the swift deletion, a number of Twitter users have expressed their disappointment that such a message could be promoted in the first place.

Caitlin Roper, the victim of the impersonation, reassured users that the post was not connected to her in any way.

The recent developments will come as a blow to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, after he made renewed efforts to tackle online abuse earlier this year. A leaked email sent by Mr Costolo in February revealed that silencing trolls was one of the key reasons for users leaving the social network.

Read more: Twitter tackle cyberbullying with ‘print police report’ option

“We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” he wrote. “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.