By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Head Photographer~
The Cincinnati Zoo deleted its Twitter account last Tuesday after being bombarded with protests, memes, and jokes surrounding the killing of Harambe the gorilla.
Similarly, Thane Maynard, the zoo’s director, had his Twitter account hacked twice last week.
The account was temporarily turned into a Harambe meme account and started an explicit Harambe-themed hashtag.
Last week, Thane Maynard spoke up about the response.
“We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe,” Maynard said. “Our zoo family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us. We are honoring Harambe by redoubling our gorilla conservation efforts and encouraging others to join us.”
But the backlash didn’t stop there. Maynard’s account was hacked for a second time last week.
Presumably, the same hacker tweeted out, “I suggest you all change your passwords, every one of them. And yes, that includes your @cincinnatizoo.org email address,” and, “No, I’m not a threat to the zoo or staff. I’m trying to help this time.”
This kind of online harassment is familiar to Xavier professor Leslie Rasmussen who received countless threats and accusations online earlier this summer.
The harassment followed a case concerning Stanford University student Brock Turner who was convicted of three accounts of sexual assault in June.
During Turner’s trial, his childhood friend, Leslie Rasmussen, was a character witness, denying the allegations against Turner. Harassers assumed Xavier’s Rasmussen to be the same woman who spoke at Turner’s trial, despite the two women having no affiliation with one another other than the same name.
Rasmussen first received an antagonistic email in her Xavier inbox, and later checked her Facebook and Twitter accounts to find more cruel messages referencing the Brock Turner case.
Immediately Rasmussen contacted Xavier Police, and her name and contact information were taken off the university website.
The harassment continued for two weeks, but Rasmussen took a look at it from a bigger picture.
“Even if I was that Leslie Rasmussen, it doesn’t make it okay. It’s not okay to behave this way…The real Leslie Rasmussen, the one who wrote this letter, is a 20-year old female in Ohio. And, based on what she said in her letter, it doesn’t sound like she understands what rape is, or sexual assault. And that is a bigger problem,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen refused to take down her profiles, feeling no responsibility for the mistakes and carelessness of others.
While she disagrees with the Zoo’s decision to delete its Twitter account, she has her own approach for tackling online harassment.
“So what if I was her? We still should not behave this way… we need to educate, and not harass and bully and troll.”