Twitter Set For Abuse Report Button
Twitter plans to include a button for reporting abuse within every tweet, the website said today, as a man arrested in connection with a barrage of hostile tweets sent to a feminist campaigner was released on police bail.
Caroline Criado Perez faced a menacing tirade on the micro-blogging site, including threats to rape and kill her, after she succeeded in her crusade to have a woman's picture placed on a new banknote.
Police have questioned a man in connection with the torrent of abuse as Twitter faced repeated calls to ramp up its security policies.
The 21-year-old has been bailed to a date in mid-September following his arrest in Manchester on suspicion of harassment offences, Scotland Yard said.
It follows a complaint made on Thursday to detectives in Camden, north London, who are continuing their inquiries, the force added.
Critics have called for Twitter to take faster and stronger action against online thugs in the wake of the abuse.
An online petition in support of Ms Criado Perez - which urged the site to facilitate the swift reporting of threatening behaviour - has already received more than 62.000 signatures.
The vicious online attack has also led to calls for a boycott of the free social media platform on August 4.
Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy criticised Twitter's security policies after she drew a similar barrage of threats for supporting Ms Criado Perez.
The politician retweeted some of the sinister messages to her 30,000 followers as she warned the "morons" behind the abuse would face justice.
Ms Creasy told BBC Radio 4's The World At One:
"This is not about Twitter, this is about hatred of women and hatred of women who speak up.
"And indeed, some of those people sending the messages have been absolutely explicit about that.
"Twitter needs to be explicit that sexual violence and sexual aggression will not be tolerated as part of their user terms and conditions.
"We can all challenge these people and indeed when this happens to me in other occasions I tend to retweet it so people can say 'This is not acceptable'.
"But we also need a platform for when things are not dealt with by users, when actually users do not realise that they are being misogynist, they are being aggressive or that actually they are trying to shut other people's free speech down."
She later told Sky News:
"It's not the technology that makes them idiots, it's because they are idiots. And actually Twitter has a role to play in helping us end the violence against women that this represents."
Twitter said it had introduced a button for reporting abuse on its latest iPhone app and is now looking to expand this function.
A spokesman said:
"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. We encourage users to report an account for violation of the Twitter rules by using one of our report forms."
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 the Queen 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 when it is introduced in 2017.
Andy Trotter, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) communications advisory group, told BBC Radio 4's The World At One that Twitter was not doing enough to combat internet trolls.
"I was talking to Twitter only this morning about this and while we do work with them on some matters I think there is a lot more to be done," he said.
"They need to take responsibility as do the other platforms to deal with this at source and make sure these things do not carry on.
"They need to make it easier for victims to report these matters and, from a police perspective, they need to know that they can report these things to us."
He said officers did not want to be "policing the internet all day long".
"But when it comes to really outrageous behaviour, clearly it must be reported to us and we will deal with these people," he said.
Ms Creasy added:
"I think we are evolving how we understand the impact of the internet and social media on crime and how it's committed. But let's be very clear, this isn't about free speech.
"Free speech is incredibly important on and offline, but it's not free speech for someone to be threatened with rape. We have to have ways of dealing with that and we mustn't misunderstand the level of cyber harassment taking place in this country.
"That's what we are looking for Twitter to play a key role in. Because actually if Twitter didn't exist, these people would still propagate these kind of views."