Leslie Jones wants the world to see the hateful tweets she receives

Leslie Jones at the Los Angeles premiere of Ghostbusters.
Reuters

Leslie Jones at the Los Angeles premiere of Ghostbusters.

For weeks, the cast of the new, all-female Ghostbusters reboot has fired back at sexist critics and misogynist trolls who apparently feel deeply aggrieved to see their fictional childhood heroes portrayed by female actors.

But as the movie's only black star, comedian Leslie Jones has been subjected to a particularly vile level of abuse - and earlier this week she decided she wanted everyone to understand just how bad it had become.

As her Twitter feed filled with racist slurs and memes, hateful messages and images comparing Jones to apes - particularly Harambe, the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a child fell into his enclosure - Jones decided to fight back.

(L to R): Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones for Ghostbusters.
SUPPLIED

(L to R): Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones for Ghostbusters.

"You know I'm gonna stop blocking so y'all can go through my feed yourself," she tweeted to her 189,000 followers (a number which has since risen to 221,000). "You won't believe the evil."

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They ain't afraid of no ghosts - and Leslie Jones ain't afraid of no Twitter haters either.
SUPPLIED

They ain't afraid of no ghosts - and Leslie Jones ain't afraid of no Twitter haters either.

She retweeted a lengthy barrage of hateful images, messages and videos, and pleaded with Twitter to help her - a request that grew especially urgent after someone created a fake account under her name and used it to tweet homophobic slurs.

Over hours, Jones made her mounting frustration and devastation clear.

Her efforts to gain wider attention worked. Hundreds of fans and celebrities - including Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, William Shatner and many others - tweeted praise and support to Jones.

COLUMBIA

Ghostbusters is out on DVD on Octoberr 12.

Using the hashtag #LoveforLeslieJ, many joined her in demanding that Twitter take action to stop the harassment.

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Twitter has long faced complaints that its abuse policy is insufficient and inconsistently implemented. In response, they offered this statement: "While we don't comment on individual accounts, here's an explainer on our content boundaries here" with a link to its rules.

But then Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took notice of Jones' situation, and tweeted at her to ask that she message him directly.

In a updated statement to Buzzfeed, Twitter said it had responded to the situation.

"This type of abusive behaviour is not permitted on Twitter, and we've taken action on many of the accounts reported to us by both Leslie and others," the statement said. "We rely on people to report this type of behaviour to us but we are continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to prevent this kind of abuse. We realise we still have a lot of work in front of us before Twitter is where it should be on how we handle these issues."

It wasn't the first time that Jones has brought attention to the discrimination she faces.

In June, the 183cm star revealed that she was struggling to find a designer to make a dress for her for the Ghostbusters premiere.

Project Runway alum Cristian Siriano ultimately created the off-shoulder, scarlet gown that Jones wore to the premiere. Siriano rejected the praise he'd received for what he said was simply doing his job.

Jones has consistently been tough on trolls and critics, often firing back with insults of her own. "I don't care how famous or how popular I am," Jones told Seth Meyers during a May appearance on his chat show, "if you call me a gorilla I'm gonna call your momma one".

Not all her fans are onboard with this approach. Some supporters have implored her to stop re-tweeting and insulting her haters, but Jones isn't having it.

For the problem to be fixed, she argues, it has to be visible first: "I'm tired of everybody not believing they can change something," she tweeted. "We can change anything if we want."

But despite her determination, it was clear that the cumulative toll of the relentless hostility was heavy.

"I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart," she tweeted as she signed off for the night. "All this cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the shit I got today...wrong."

 - The Washington Post

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