Alumni News

The Twitter Switch

Summer Brennan '01 used tactics straight out of 12th Night in an attempt to undermine internet trolls. She told Flare Magazine about what she learned when she changed her profile picture on Twitter to one of her brother.

Summer Brennan

Brennan, who previously received frequent, gendered abuse from trolls offering everything from threats evoking the Holocaust to “violent drawings of women being beaten or killed,” saw the number of threatening messages drop to near zero.

However, a return to her original photo saw the trolls return as well.

Of this experiment, she said, “I really got the sense that the trolls target women specifically, even when the subject isn’t about gender, and that many must enjoy hurting women—or at least the feeling that they are hurting the picture of a woman that they see on their screen.”  

Brennan, who is the author of The Oyster War, will also be writing a twice-monthly column on Literary Hub about the power of language in the age of Trump. In the first installment, she urged readers to join her in fighting against the “hijacking of public language.”

She continued: "Fascism favors sameness; it represents a desertification of language and thinking. You can fight sameness with diversity.”