Helen Zille leaves Twitter over 'grotesque treatment' of grandchild
Helen Zille is leaving Twitter.
The Democratic Alliance federal council chair announced on Monday that she was closing her public account following the "grotesque treatment" of her granddaughter on the same platform on Sunday.
Zille had posted a picture of her granddaughter holding a chicken and wrote: "Load-shedding won't stop [her] and me from cooking up a storm."
Her granddaughter is black.
Several comments to that post were vitriolic, with one user saying Zille had turned the child into her "maid".
Another Twitter user replied: "Scenario: ma'am Helen is sitting with a whip and ordering the poor girl, like how Helen's Caucasian grandfather did."
Following the responses she received, Zille announced in a series of tweets on Monday that she was closing her account.
"I say goodbye to some of my followers, and good riddance to the haters, bots and sock-puppets that constitute such a large percentage of my 1.4-million plus followers," she said.
She then announced that she had opened a private Twitter account, known as @ZilleTweets, where only approved followers can see her tweets.
Zille said Twitter had degenerated into a platform for irrationality and mob-lynching.
"Everything that can be distorted and twisted for a hate-filled agenda is used for the purpose of manufacturing outrage and inflicting maximum damage," she said in the parting shot.
Instead of democratising debate, Zille said, Twitter had severely curtailed freedom of speech and discussion. "It emboldens your enemies and silences your friends."
She said Twitter was a space where the best lacked all conviction and the worst were full of passionate intensity.
Zille said the only thing she would miss if she went off the platform entirely would be the posts of the rational and interesting people she followed.
"So I am opening a new, private account called @ZilleTweets. That will be for people interested in rational debate only," she said, adding that she would only know if someone was interested in rational debate if she knows them either personally or through past Twitter interactions.
"This means I may reject many who are interested in rational debate - but who, I do not know. I apologise for that. But this evil platform that can find no effective way of filtering out fake accounts and dealing with hate speech (as constitutionally defined) offers no alternative," she said.
"Go well if you mean well. I'm out of here."