Everyone’s favorite internet villain, Martin Shkreli, has found himself in trouble again. This time, the former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO has been removed from Twitter after continually harassing journalist Lauren Duca.
The incident began when Shkreli started posting tweets about dating Duca. He later sent her a direct message, asking if she would accompany him to Donald Trump’s inauguration. The married freelance writer, whose Teen Vogue feature on how the President-elect is “gaslighting America” was a big hit last month, refused the invitation. “I would rather eat my own organs,” was her response to the Pharma Bro, who she has never met. “Well, start with your heart,” replied Shkreli, “what a cold you know what!”
I would rather eat my own organs pic.twitter.com/IgeCRZqk8w— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) January 5, 2017
Shkreli - who gained infamy in 2015 after he raised the price of an old anti-infective drug by more than 5000 percent – then changed his Twitter banner to a collage of photos featuring Duca. It included the words, “For Better or Worse, Til Death do Us Part, I’ll Love You With Every Single Beat of my Heart.” He also updated his profile picture to show an image of Duca and her spouse, but with Shkreli’s face photoshopped over the top of her husband’s head.
Shkreli also changed his Twitter bio to inform everyone that he has “a small crush on @laurenduca,” and posted a tweet stating that he had bought the domain name “marrymelauren.com.”
The actions prompted Duca to ask Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey how such things were allowed. “I don’t know how this could possibly be allowed because this is an act of targeted harassment,” wrote Duca. “I know Twitter is struggling to figure out what makes the most sense [regarding user guidelines]… but this is an entire profile dedicated to upsetting me.”
A few hours later, Shkreli’s account was suspended. “The Twitter Rules prohibit targeted harassment, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies,” said a company spokesperson. Shkreli has also been “temporarily suspended” from Periscope for allegedly harassing and trying to contact Duca on the Twitter-owned platform.
As was the case with Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos’s suspension, the banning has led some to question Twitter’s commitment to “free speech.” Shkreli himself remains unrepentant, saying he would stop if Duca directly asked him to.