Part of the Twitter universe erupted into a series of racist slurs against a Toronto-born Washington Capitals player after he scored the winning overtime goal in Wednesday night's victory over the Boston Bruins.
Some individuals claiming to be Bruins fans tweeted a number of racist comments about Joel Ward, who is black, following the game, in which the Capitals beat the Bruins 2-1.
Ward told USA Today that it was "shocking to see," but that the comments didn't "ruin his day."
"It doesn't faze me at all," he said. "We won, and we are moving on. … People are going to say what they want to say."
Ward added that he has never experienced any racist remarks during his time in the NHL.
Ward said he thought it was "just kids" posting those comments.
"It has no effect on me whatsoever. I've been playing this game long enough and I've not had any encounters of that nature."
Ward said a lot of Boston fans have also offered up support.
Although he grew up in Toronto, Ward played for the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers from 2001-05.
The Bruins released a statement Thursday, saying the organization "was very disappointed by the racist comments that were made."
The statement went on to say that "these classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization."
In a blog post last year entitled 'The Tweets Must Flow', Twitter reiterated its commitment to freedom of expression, saying content that it does remove is mostly for legal reasons.
"We don't always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content," it said.
But earlier this year, Twitter created a bit of an uproar when it announced it would reactively withhold content from users in a specific country because of certain speech restrictions in that country.
University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist said he doesn't believe Twitter should be responsible for monitoring its content.
"Three hundred and forty million tweets a day?" he said.
"I'm not saying it's a free for all. Offline laws apply. But there's a difference between distasteful tweets and illegal tweets that violate some law or another. And we have to be careful. Free speech is broad and free speech means there's going to be stuff that many of us find more than distasteful —abhorrent."
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