A petition calling for Twitter to add a “report abuse” button has attracted more than 55,000 signatures following the abuse and rape threats received by Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully campaigned for women to be featured on UK banknotes.
On the day it was announced Jane Austen would appear on the new £10 note, Criado-Perez claimed she received 50 abusive tweets every hour for a period of 12 hours.
She reported the Tweets to police and a 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of harassment in the Manchester area in connection with the threats.
Tony Wang, general manager of Twitter in the UK, did address the issue of abuse, although not Criado-Perez’s case, encouraging people to report abuse and promising to suspend accounts that violated its rules.
It has been suggested Twitter prefers for users to report such abuse to the police, but the petition argued this is simply not good enough. It alleged abuse on the platform is too often ignored and tools to report it are below standard.
It called for Twitter to take a zero-tolerance policy on abuse and reviews its terms and conditions with regards to abusive behaviour. The campaign has received a number of celebrity endorsements, some of whom have called for a boycott of the platform on 4 August if matters do not improve.
Twitter told TechWeekEurope it does have rules in place but it needs people to report the content to them so it can open a ticket and examine whether the alleged abuse is in breach of its rules.
The ability to report abuse directly from within the offending Tweet is currently available in the Twitter iPhone application and the company is looking to bring this functionality to all versions of the service in the near future.
“We don’t comment on individual accounts,” said a Twitter spokesperson. “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.”
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