Van Badham has been the target of trolling, bullying and harassment. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Late on Tuesday night, while most of Twitter was reacting to Waleed Aly's call to #sendforgivenessviral, writer and activist Van Badham appeared to begin "tweeting" some rather out-of-character material.
The tweets were a mix of NSFW, abusive, incoherent and had terrible spelling. Badham's followers knew it couldn't possibly be her, and when an Australian mobile phone number was posted, they kicked into action.
While some frantically tweeted at Twitter support, others knew from experience that the platform was unlikely to react with the necessary urgency.
Within around half an hour, however, the "young gentleman" had been kicked out of Badham's account.
The hacker is out. This is not Van but another friendly feminist tweeting until I can return her account. Thanks to all who tried to help.— Van Badham (@vanbadham) July 19, 2016
In a post to Facebook this morning thanking her followers for their action on her behalf, Badham said it was a group of anonymous feminist hackers who really saved the day.
"I've actually been off Twitter/FB due to a bereavement last week, so it was the sudden outpouring of messages that raised enough of an alarm for friends to contact me where I've been staying and allow me to get it sorted. For that, I thank you," she said.
"I also thank the amazing team of anonymous feminist net-ninjas who saw what was happening and - this is the best bit - OVER-HACKED THE HACKER, driving him from my account and enabling me to contact the authorities and re-establish control."
Twitter is now investigating the incident, Badham says. In the meantime, "I'll be remaining offline, lighting candles to sweet feminist saints and preparing to take the incident to the police, so as to pursue the hateful, violating little perpetrator to the full extent of the law."
The incident comes a week after Badham posted a video to her Facebook page highlighting the abuse she had received online in the wake of her argument with Steve Price on Q&A, in which he accused her of being "hysterical" for talking passionately about the epidemic of domestic violence.
On Wednesday morning, Twitter announced it is taking steps to solve its harassment problem after vile racist abuse was levelled at Ghostbusters actor and comedian Leslie Jones, prompting her to quit the platform. One of those steps was to finally, permanently ban Breitbart.com tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, after years of complaints about him using the service to spread hateful views and abuse.
But it shouldn't take a storm of racist abuse culminating in a celebrity leaving Twitter in tears for the platform to do something about stopping harassment and abuse. Nor should feminists have to take the protection of an ally into their own hands when an abusive hacker takes control of an account and begins doxxing the owner and harassing her friends.