Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has joined the growing chorus of disapproval over Twitter's handling of the abuse targetted at a feminist campaigner who successfully petitioned to have a picture of a woman placed on a bank note.
Caroline Criado Perez was subjected to daily threats of rape and death from users of the micro-blogging site following her campaign to have Jane Austen placed on £10 notes.
A 21-year-old was arrested on Sunday evening in Manchester on suspicion of harassment offences after officers in Camden, London, received a complaint of malicious communications on Thursday.
Cooper: 'Disgraceful, appalling and unacceptable.'
On Sunday afternoon, Cooper revealed she had writtten to Tony Wang, the general manager of Twitter UK, demanding the company takes online abuse seriously, calling into question the company's response to the "disgraceful, appalling and unacceptable" comments made against Criado Perez on the site.
Cooper wrote: "Despite the scale and seriousness of these threats, the official response from Twitter continues to be extremely weak - simply directing Caroline away from Twitter towards the police, and, belatedly, directing users to abuse reporting forms on Twitter.
"Of course it is right to report such abuse to the police, and it is very important that they investigate and pursue this case. But social media platforms also have a responsibility for the platform they give users. And in particular they have a responsibility not to tolerate this kind of abuse, rape threats and potentially criminal behaviour."
She added: "The response by Twitter has clearly been inadequate and fails not only Caroline, but many more women and girls who have faced similar abuse on your social network. More than 20,000 people have already signed an online petition asking Twitter to allow users to report abuse directly with one click.
"I urge you to go further and ensure that Twitter carries out a full review of all its policies on abusive behaviour, threats and crimes, including more help for Twitter users who experience abuse, a clear complaints process and clear action from Twitter to tackle this kind of persecution."
Criado-Perez said she had been getting the threats for almost 48 hours since the announcement by the Bank of England that it would put Jane Austen on the £10 from 2017.
She told HuffPost UK: "For me, the really shocking thing is how this has happened over such a tiny, tiny thing. We asked for there to be a woman on a bank note, how does asking that even annoy someone? Annoy someone so much they send a barrage of rape threats? It's kinda gobsmacking."
Caroline Criado-Perez has been subjected to vile abuse on Twitter
But Criado-Perez said she was heartened by the response, which she hoped could make a real difference to how hate tweets are reported to the social network.
"I would not say I'm glad it's happened, but if it does have to happen then I'm glad it happened over such a minor, tiny thing. That shows it's not about what women are doing, not about feminism. It's that some men don't like women, and don't like women in the public domain."
Tweets to her account, many of which are too grotesque for publication, include one user who said: "Everyone jump on the rape train, @CCriadoPerez is the conductor."
Another wrote: "Hey sweetheart, give me a call when you're ready to be put in your place."
Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, is one of those supporting 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."
Thanks 4 commenting @TonyW, but you need to review your procedure. Report process too protracted for someone receiving a tidal wave of abuse
— CarolineCriado-Perez (@CCriadoPerez) July 27, 2013
In response, Wang 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. We encourage users to report an account for violation of the Twitter rules by using one of our report forms: https://support.twitter.com/forms."
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