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Robin Williams’ daughter is back on Twitter: “Never be bullied into silence”

Zelda Williams has returned to Twitter, in defiance of online bullies. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

The daughter of the actor and comedian Robin Williams is back on social media, three weeks after she said she was bullied off social networks following her father's suicide. Zelda Williams, 25, went silent on her accounts after some Twitter users sent her doctored images of her father showing bruises around his neck.

At the time, Zelda Williams said she would leave Twitter for "a good long while" and also stopped posting to her Tumblr and Instagram accounts. On Tuesday, however, a new post on her Twitter feed -- linking to a Tumblr post -- shared a defiant message about not letting bullies have the last word, with a quote attributed to her father's "Mrs. Doubtfire" co-star  Harvey Fierstein.

Williams's problems this summer helped prompt Twitter to release new policies regarding images of deceased Twitter users. The social network now allows for direct family members to petition the site to have some images removed, in certain cases. "Immediate family members and other authorized individuals may request the removal of images or video of deceased individuals, from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death," the company policy says, though Twitter will evaluate the newsworthiness of the images before removing them.

Twitter's full-throated commitment to free expression has, for some users, also made it feel unsafe. The abuse that Williams faced is just a fraction of the kinds of attacks many Twitter users experience. The network's openness means that it's easy for strangers to directly send tweets to other users bullying them about their gender, race, political opinions or disabilities. Twitter, which some critics say could be doing more to protect users, has said that it is re-evaluating its policies to "better handle" situations like Williams's.

Zelda Williams's return to Twitter shows that, in some cases, even those cowed into silence can reclaim their place online. Still, Williams's social media presence hasn't completely returned to the way it was: for now, at least, her Instagram account is still set to private.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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