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Saturday, October 8, 2022

Public figures protect their accounts after cyber attacks and death threats

By V4 Agency

A minister and a former politician of one of the largest parties have decided to make their Twitter accounts private, because they have been harassed and threatened by several users and the social media platform has failed to address their complaints.

Online attacks and insults directed towards public figures have become increasingly common. A good example is the case of Mila, a French student who was forced to change schools after receiving a slew of death threats from users for criticising Islam early last year.

A number of politicians have also become the target of commenters of late. Over the weekend, French Citizenship Minister Marlene Schiappa and Jean Messiha, former MP of the right-wing National Rally, decided to make their Twitter accounts private after they received several attacks, insults and even deaths threats on social media.

Ms Schiappa posted a final tweet on Saturday afternoon, saying one’s political beliefs can under no circumstances justify cyberattacks against that individual. After being harassed multiple times and even receiving death threats, she complained to Twitter’s administrators, asking them to take action. As nothing happened, she decided to make her account private.

The citizenship minister is not the only who ended up in the crosshairs of online attacks. An article published by the weekly Valeurs actuelles reveals that Jean Messiha, a former politician of the right-wing National Rally, has also been harassed on the internet, so – as a consequence – he also decided to limit the number of users who can read his posts on Twitter.

When providing an explanation on why he restricted the visibility of his tweets, Mr Messiha stressed that he received over 25 thousand hate messages on Twitter, just on Sunday. Although he filed a report with admin, Twitter failed to act. The former NR lawmaker was quick to express his incomprehension, saying Twitter’s rules and policies explicitly prohibit cyberattacks and – in his case – this is precisely what happened.

The settings of Mr Messiha’s Twitter account, however, did not stay private for too long. After a relavtively short amount of time he decided to restore its original “public” setting,  and told his followers that he was not afraid of threats.

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