Someone really isn't fond of Emma Sulkowicz's campus sexual assault mattress protest and made it known with a Twitter account launched Thursday with the handle @FakeRape, using Sulkowicz's image as its avatar. They've tweeted almost a hundred times in the past 24 hours and amassed over 2,700 followers as of midday Friday. They've also tweeted images of flyers that were posted around New York City with Sulkowicz's image accompanied by the tagline "Pretty Little Liar." But does this account and its polemical #RapeHoax tweets violate Twitter's terms of use conditions? 


According to Twitter, "targeted abuse" is one of the ways you violate The Twitter Rules:

"You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be targeted abuse or harassment are: If the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others; if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats."


When asked if @FakeRape's account violated Twitter's terms of use, namely its targeted abuse rule, a Twitter spokesperson who didn't want to be named told International Business Times, "We do not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons." 

Twitter has been updating its abuse reports features and boasts that Twitter's time responding to reports has improved. But its decision-making criteria isn't transparent, according to a company update, which states that the site added "new enforcement actions for use against accounts that violate our rules." Those actions, however, "will not be visible to the vast majority of rule-abiding Twitter users."


@FakeRape's tagline is "Faking Rape to Perpetuate an Astroturf Agenda," which implies that Sulkowicz is lying about her rape allegations against Paul Nungesser. She complained that Columbia University didn't look into her allegations properly, in spite of multiple accusations against him by other women, which inspired her mattress protest.


"Astroturf" is defined by Urban Dictionary as "the act of creating a small organization and making it appear to represent something popular for the purpose of promoting a particular entity, cause, etc. (a play on grassroots in the sense of a popular movement originating among the common people, ultimately from AstroTurf, a brand of artificial grass)." The implication is that Sulkowicz is using her activism as a way to promote herself.

The #FakeRape hashtag has created a Twitter war of words, with those who see the hashtag as a way to discredit rape survivors and others who believe there is a disproportionate number of people who are falsely accusing men of rape. Perhaps the only way we will know if Twitter considers @FakeRape targeted abuse is if it disappears.