Martin Shkreli, the former Turing Pharmaceuticals executive who became known as “Pharma Bro” after he dramatically hiked the price of a drug, was suspended from Twitter on Sunday afternoon. A person at Twitter who is familiar with the matter but declined to be quoted directly confirmed that Shkreli’s suspension was related to his harassment of journalist Lauren Duca.
Duca, a freelance journalist, recently wrote a viral op-ed for Teen Vogue titled “Donald Trump is gaslighting America.” During a combative appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show just before Christmas, Carlson told Duca that she should stick to writing about “thigh-high boots,” and Duca told Carlson that he was “unprofessional” and a “partisan hack.” The exchange resulted in her receiving thousands of angry messages, including a rape threat on Christmas Day.
A few days ago, Shkreli started trolling Duca on Twitter:
And Sunday, Duca noticed that Shkreli had changed his Twitter profile picture to an image of her, in which Shkreli’s face was photoshopped onto that of another man. “I have a small crush on @laurenduca,” his Twitter bio read. “Hope she doesn’t find out.” The photoshopped image, Duca noted to Buzzfeed, was originally an image of Duca and her husband.
Before Shkreli’s suspension, Duca tweeted images of the profile changes to Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, asking, “How is this allowed.”
In an emailed statement on Sunday afternoon, Duca said Shkreli “is engaged in targeted harassment, and absolutely deserves to have his account suspended.” She added that it was “unfortunate” that people were mainly paying attention to this particular suspension because of Shkreli’s high profile.
“Trolling seems to be an automatic occupational hazard for female writers who receive any level of professional attention,” she said. “That’s something Twitter needs to work harder to fix, but obviously the problem runs far deeper.”
“The Twitter Rules prohibit targeted harassment, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement in response to questions about Shkreli’s suspension. Twitter generally doesn’t give many details on the actions it takes against specific accounts.
We reached out to Shkreli seeking comment on his suspension, but he replied that he doesn’t speak to The Washington Post because it is a “trash extension of the left wing.” In a statement to the Verge just before his suspension, Shkreli said he didn’t believe his actions should be considered harassment because Duca hadn’t asked him to stop.
According to the person at Twitter familiar with the matter, Shkreli’s suspension is temporary. If he decides to appeal his suspension and make some required changes to his account, he will be allowed back on the platform.
This post has been updated with a statement from Lauren Duca