Twitter to widen ability to report abuse

Development comes after British journalist received rape and death threats via platform

Caroline Criado Perez, co-founder of the Women’s Room, who faced a barrage of hostile tweets after she successfully campaigned for a woman’s picture to be put on a new bank note. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/PA Wire

Caroline Criado Perez, co-founder of the Women’s Room, who faced a barrage of hostile tweets after she successfully campaigned for a woman’s picture to be put on a new bank note. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/PA Wire

Mon, Jul 29, 2013, 16:09

Twitter plans to include a button for reporting abuse within every tweet, the site said today amid a growing furore over online threats to rape and kill a feminist campaigner.

Caroline Criado Perez faced a tirade on Twitter after she succeeded in her crusade to have a woman’s picture placed on a new bank note. Police were today questioning a man in connection with the torrent of abuse as Twitter faced repeated calls to ramp up its security policies.

The 21-year-old was arrested yesterday in Manchester on suspicion of harassment offences following a complaint made on Thursday. Critics called for Twitter to take faster and stronger action against online thugs in the wake of the abuse.

A campaign in support of Ms Criado Perez - which urged the site to facilitate the swift reporting of threatening behaviour - has already received more than 12,500 signatures. The online attack has also led to calls for a boycott of the social media platform on August 4th.

Twitter today 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 company was planning to give users of web and Android versions of the service the ability to report individual Tweets for abuse, as is currently available on Twitter for iPhone.

“We don’t comment on individual accounts. However, we have rules which people agree to abide by when they sign up to Twitter,” he said. “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, who has received support from MPs and celebrities, said it was not unusual to get abuse of the sort but that she had never seen it get as intense or aggressive as in this case.

“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,” she said. “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 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.