Twitter urged to act after woman abused for bank note campaign

Sunday 28 July 2013 09.34
Caroline Criado Perez (far right) successfully campaigned to have women represented on bank notes
Caroline Criado Perez (far right) successfully campaigned to have women represented on bank notes

Twitter is facing calls to take faster and stronger action against online abuse after a feminist campaigner in Britain was subjected to a sustained barrage of threats.

Caroline Criado Perez faced a deluge of hostile tweets over the course of more than a day, including threats to rape and kill her, after she successfully campaigned for a woman's picture to be put on a new bank note.

A campaign in her support, calling on Twitter to introduce a button to allow speedy reporting of abuse, has already received more than 12,500 signatures and she has received support from MPs and celebrities.

There are also attempts being made to organise a boycott of the free social media platform on 4 August.

Ms Criado Perez said: "It's sadly not unusual to get this kind of abuse but I've never seen it get as intense or aggressive as this.

"It's infuriating that the price you pay for standing up for women is 24 hours of rape threats. We are showing that by standing together we can make a real difference. We made the Bank of England change its mind, we can do the same with Twitter."

Ms Criado Perez, a freelance journalist, organised a campaign which included a petition signed by more than 35,500 people after the Bank of England decided to replace Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill on new £5 notes.

The move would have meant there were no women apart from Queen Elizabeth on sterling banknotes.

Her campaign was a success, with an announcement by the bank last week that the author Jane Austen will feature on the new £10 note when it is introduced in 2017.

Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, is one of those supporting Ms Criado Perez.

"What Caroline has had to deal with in the past day is not only disgusting, but criminal," she said.

"A quick look at Twitter this morning shows that women are not prepared to stand by and take this kind of abuse.

"Twitter needs to get its house in order, and fast."

Tony Wang, the general manager of Twitter UK, said that the company takes online abuse seriously.

He tweeted: "We encourage users to report an account for violation of the Twitter rules by using one of our report forms.

"Also, we're testing ways to simplify reporting, e.g. within a Tweet by using the "Report Tweet" button in our iPhone app and on mobile web.

"We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules."

A Twitter spokeswoman added: "The ability to report individual tweets for abuse is currently available on Twitter for iPhone and we plan to bring this functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web.

"We don't comment on individual accounts.

"However, we have rules which people agree to abide by when they sign up to Twitter.

"We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules."

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