Fan accounts of pop musicians like Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato decorate their Twitter accounts with the likeness of their favorite stars, even going as far as to photoshop themselves into their photos. They do this while making regular advances towards these notable celebrities, so why did Martin Shkreli recently face an account suspension on Twitter for doing the same thing?
If you’ve heard of Martin Shkreli, you may find him to be off-putting. The infamous pharmaceutical executive who was once referred to by the media in 2015 as the “most hated man in America” is once again making headlines. This time, for offending a weekend editor at Teen Vogue on Twitter.
It started when Shkreli asked Lauren Duca if she would be his “+1” to Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration:
Duca did not take kindly to Shkreli’s advances:
Instead of responding to the reporter with equal snark, Martin Shkreli decided to try a unique approach. He changed his profile picture to one featuring himself and Duca, except his face was photoshopped in replacement of her husband’s. Shkreli also changed his Twitter header picture to feature a collage of various random photos of Duca alongside a romantic quote.
Shkreli’s updated profile decor:
Duca responded with extreme disdain, even reaching out to the CEO of Twitter:
Shortly after, Shkreli’s account was suspended:
Twitter observers encouraged Duca, even dubbing Shkreli’s creepy gesture as “harassment” and “stalking”:
I understand that Shkreli’s advances were unwanted. I even personally found his profile decor to be wildly distasteful and unfunny. But is a suspension from the Twitter service truly necessary? As far as I’m concerned, Shkreli’s behavior was no different than that of a fan account promoting the likes of Justin Bieber, One Direction, or Demi Lovato.
An example of a typical Justin Bieber fan account that can easily be found on Twitter:
Duca’s account reveals that Shkreli only reached out to her one time via direct message. There are no other documented attempts of contact that proceed Shkreli’s initial invite to the inauguration. Did Duca really experience enough unwanted advances from Shkreli for them to be viewed as actual “harassment” and “stalking”? Last time I checked, harassment constitutes as “aggressive pressure or intimidation.” The same goes for stalking. I’ve always regarded it as a literal physical pursuit. Shkreli never physically pursued Duca, nor did he outwardly message her in repetition. He pretended to be in love with her in the form of public adoration. Apparently, that was too much for Duca to handle.
While Duca is entitled to find the actions of Shkreli repulsive, they’re hardly offensive. When you take into consideration how many Twitter users get away with this type of behavior regularly (as you can see with @LoveJus52665341, above), it makes even less sense. Martin Shkreli never directly threatened Lauren Duca. He simply invited her to Trump’s inauguration, then decorated his Twitter page in her likeness when she responded with vitriol — just like you’d expect someone of Shkreli’s stature to do.
After the tweets displayed above, it’s stunning to think that Duca still correlates her professional criticism with the fact that she’s female:
Martin Shkreli’s weird sense of humor may have been misconstrued, but Lauren Duca’s desire to turn the casual dalliances of a social pariah into media fodder is blatantly obvious. Breitbart journalist and the founder of Refined Right, Ariana Rowlands, even took to Twitter to call her out for it.
Duca responded how you’d expect her to:
Since Martin Shkreli didn’t indeed “harass” or “stalk” Lauren Duca, Twitter might want to reassess his suspension. When their Terms of Service set no definitive boundaries to separate the perceived provocation of a simple admirer from that of a potential threatening stalker, it becomes difficult to discern a bad joke from real danger. Regardless, one would think that a popular public figure who has taken on the likes of Fox News’s Tucker Carlson would retain a thicker skin.
But because she doesn’t, I’ll leave you (and hopefully Duca, or people like her) with the following Tyler, The Creator quote for future inspiration:
I think Lauren Duca will survive this. I regret that the Twitter account of Martin Shkreli probably won’t.