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Women's Twitter boycott aims to highlight abuse on the site

The daylong protest against the social media site comes amid concerns rules are enforced unevenly.


Twitter may be a lonelier place on Friday.

Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

If Twitter's trending topics is any indication, your news feed is going to be a quieter place come Friday.

One of the top trending hashtags on Twitter on Thursday night was #WomenBoycottTwitter, which represents an effort to organize a daylong protest to highlight harassment and abuse directed toward women on the site.

The idea for the boycott was suggested in a tweet by engineer Kelly Ellis as a way to show solidarity for actress Rose McGowan and "all the victims of hate and harassment Twitter fails to support." McGowan's Twitter account was briefly suspended Thursday after she spent a few days tweeting about the sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.  

Twitter later restored the account, explaining that McGowan had been locked out because one of her tweets included a private phone number, which violated the company's terms of service. Several Twitter users bristled at that explanation, noting that Twitter rules appear to be enforced unevenly, especially if the tweets are issued by President Donald Trump.

"The sheer number of trolls and right-wing ne'er-do-wells infesting Twitter are driving women away," Daily Dot writer Ana Valens told Gizmodo. "The boycott shows Twitter that they can't ignore this problem any longer."

Sexual harassment and bullying behavior have been a public blight on the social network for years. Some particularly ugly episodes occurred last year, including a hate mob attacking Leslie Jones, a star of last summer's "Ghostbusters" movie.

Robin Williams' death in 2015 led some Twitter users to send vicious messages to his daughter, prompting her to delete the app from her phone. That same month, Anita Sarkeesian, an academic highlighting how women are portrayed in video games, was so disturbed by the tweets she received that she fled her home, fearing for her safety.

The campaign appears to have wide support on Twitter, among men and women alike:

Not everyone was on board with the idea, though:

Twitter didn't respond to a request for comment.

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