What it's like to be harassed by Martin Shkreli, the most hated man in America


Martin Shkreli has been called everything from "pharma's biggest asshole" to "the most hated man in America," but many online know him as Twitter's biggest troll.

The 33-year-old former hedge fund manager initially made a name for himself by jacking up the price of Daraprim, a life-saving AIDS drug, from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. He's since been indicted for securities fraud. But despite the professional drama, he has never stopped tweeting.

Aside from intermittent commentary on the news, Shkreli's favorite Twitter topics include Trump, the pharma industry and, in true troll fashion, himself. His tweets have garnered over 135,000 followers and a loyal band of supporters who will come after anyone Shkreli wants to fight.

On Monday night, he came for me.

Shkreli has followed me on Twitter for a while. I don't know what I did to catch his eye, but he's been a regular in my feed for many months. He occasionally favorites my tweets or retweets, but for the most part I don't engage. I've never blocked anyone on Twitter, and if the "worst person in America" wants to read my content, who am I to say no?

At about 11 p.m. on Monday night, I sent off a tweet making a joke about how famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen loves to block people on Twitter. Being blocked by Andreessen has become a badge of honor among tech reporters.

For some reason, this struck a chord with Shkreli. "Well, you are a piece of trash, lol," he quickly responded. "You don't have a lot of followers." I retweeted his tweet with a gleeful "omg," which stoked the fire.

"I will always have you, Martin," I wrote after he called me a piece of trash. His response: "Uh, no. I just started a software company, actually. People think ur a trash writer who will never produce anything of value."

Martin Shkreli/Twitter

I quickly replied that I don't really consider myself a full time "writer," but sure.

"That's why interesting and important people block and dislike you, and most of the media. Just a FYI!" he continued. 

I wanted to reply that he himself followed me and had never blocked me, but I stayed silent.    

He went on hurling insults for several tweets before calling me "just generic poor trash. How u pay rent?" and then, "I've dated this type lol."

Martin Shkreli/Twitter

I wondered if this was Shkreli's way of flirting. He's tweeted often about his difficulty in finding a date. 

My friend Dave tweeted, "I think @MartinShkreli is trying to date @taylorlorenz but he's doing it wrong."

Martin Shkreli/Twitter

Shkreli, embarrassed and angry, let loose with another zinger: "She's pretty ugly! Add poor to the mix and you've got a TOTAL loser." He then tweeted an Instagram photo of a friend and me to "prove" his point.

My mentions for the rest of the night were useless. It was a wash of my friends earnestly defending me and Shkreli supporters calling me a busted and broke feminist Sasquatch. I ended up deleting my tweets to Shkreli.

Martin Shkreli/Twitter

Meanwhile, Shkreli pivoted to begging my friend Emily Dreyfuss, an editor at Wired, to cover his "software company" after she sarcastically replied to one of our tweets.

He also went after me and my friends for not having more followers.

Martin Shkreli/Twitter
Martin Shkreli/Twitter

"There are some dead people with more followers" than you, he tweeted at Kenny Wassus, a journalist at New York magazine. 

When Wassus asked Shkreli if he'd like to kiss, Shkreli replied that he'd consider it if Wassus had more followers.

By the end of the night, I had gained 42 followers myself.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, I deleted a couple @-replies to him in hopes that it would calm things down, and it seemed to work. His followers moved on to other targets and my mentions column became usable again.

The saying "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" surely holds true on Twitter. People I rarely chat with messaged me voicing their support, and I noticed my tweets were getting far more likes than usual even into the next day.

There's no greater American pastime than arguing on the internet, and everyone loves ganging up on a bad guy.

I couldn't care less what hateful slurs Shkreli shouts at me, but after dealing with his unprovoked onslaught of abuse, it was clear to me that Twitter's demonstrated harassment problem has no end in sight. I went to bed on Monday feeling glad I had friends willing to step in and stick up for me.

There's no greater American pastime than arguing on the internet, and everyone loves ganging up on a bad guy.

I still don't really hold any ill will toward Shkreli. He's a troll, and trolls feed on drama, so it's unsurprising that he would continuously pick fights with the media for fun. Just days ago he engaged in a very public spat with Stephen Colbert and got owned pretty hard by the Late Show host.

I just wonder, like many have, if this is his real personality — or some type of Shia LaBeouf-level performance art.

Shkreli still follows me.