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Featured Image Credit: Twitter
The Internet can be a cruel place sometimes and even little kids can be subject to harsh treatment from keyboard warriors who should really know better.
Thankfully, one American mum is campaigning to make Twitter a better place in honour of her disabled daughter whose photo was misused in a disgusting pro-eugenics campaign.
Natalie Weaver, of Cornelius, North Carolina, is the mother of nine-year-old Sophia. Sophia has disfigurements in her face, hands and feet as well as type 1 diabetes and Rett syndrome, a condition which affects her speech and co-ordination.
Due to her unusual appearance, Sophia is often a target for horrid abuse online - with many people saying that she would be better off not existing despite the love around her.
However, one individual crossed the line when they sent Weaver a direct tweet containing a pro-eugenics message, illustrating it by using a picture of Sophia taken from media coverage.
"It is okay to think that every child matters however a lot of them do not," the horrid message read, posting Sophia's face at the side.
"Hence the amnio test ... should be a mandatory test and if it proves negative and the woman does not want to abort then all bills accrued after that is on her and the father."
Weaver, a healthcare advocate for children with complex medical needs, was furious that her daughter's image was being misused in this way and quickly complained to Twitter in the hope it would be taken down.
Though we have to deal with a lot of pain and challenges in our life, we know the true meaning of happiness and living in the moment. All the bad makes all the good even more amazing. We appreciate the little things and we love our beautiful girl. We are so proud of her. pic.twitter.com/dUFZGZrPz9
- Natalie Weaver (@Nataliew1020) November 15, 2017
Despite her reporting the message - and encouraging her followers to do the same - Twitter Support replied claiming that the tweet didn't violate any rules or regulations.
"@TwitterSupport Just received an email that Twitter doesn't think a person using my child's image as the poster child to ABORT & to weed out all the 'defectives' in utero is a violation," Weaver said via a tweet.
"Why? Bc they won't recognize hate toward ppl w/ disabilities in their regulations/reports."
Natalie was undeterred by Twitter's initial response and continued to argue passionately that the image should be taken down.
Eventually Twitter issued an apology to Weaver. The person who posted the horrible tweet was suspended.
"Our goal is to create a safe environment for everyone on Twitter to express themselves freely," Twitter said in a follow-up email to Weaver.
"After reviewing your earlier report, it appears as though we missed a violation. We suspended the account you reported as it was found to be participating in abusive behavior. We apologize for this error."
Please take a moment to watch the video that @dominickevans and I did. Please join me in asking twitter to include people w/ disabilities as a category when reporting Hate & Discrimination. @TwitterSupport @TwitterSafety @jack https://t.co/EAZeQ1eAVT
- Natalie Weaver (@Nataliew1020) February 7, 2018
This was only the beginning of Natalie's fight with Twitter policy, as her interactions with Twitter led her to learn that the social media platform's reporting tool does not 'have enough space' to include hate towards disabilities as a reason to review a tweet.
Natalie is now pushing for Twitter to change its violation reporting procedures to explicitly offer a category mentioning disabilities, so disabled people know they will be defended.
"Twitter needs to add people with disabilities as a category in their violation reporting," Natalie told CNN.
"Otherwise people don't know the appropriate category to select for hate towards people with disabilities."
All credit to Natalie for using her and Sophia's experience to push to make the Internet better for everyone. No doubt Sophia is proud to have her as her mum.