Twitter updates rules to target online abuse

A number of users were sent threats of rape or violence through the social network

Twitter has updated its rules and pledged to strengthen its teams dealing with reports of abuse as it moved to reassure users concerned about threats made through the website. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Social network Twitter has moved to reassure users that it is cracking down on abuse on its site, by updating its rules and expanding teams responsible for handling such reports.

In a blog post this morning, Twitter’s senior director of trust and safety Del Harvey and UK general manager Tony Wang said the company had been listening to feedback on how to improve the service and would be implementing some changes in the coming months.

One change to take immediate effect is the update to the site’s rules, to clarify that the social network will not tolerate abusive behaviour.

“It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter,” the post said. “We want people to feel safe on Twitter, and we want the Twitter Rules to send a clear message to anyone who thought that such behaviour was, or could ever be, acceptable.”


An in-tweet reporting button, already available to users of Twitter’s iOS app and its mobile website, will be rolled out to the Android application and the main website. This will allow users to report a tweet directly, rather than having to use the site’s help centre to file an abuse report.

Twitter is also expanding the teams that deal with the cases of reported abuse on the social networking site, and said it will be promoting the work of the UK Safer Internet Centre and its resources.

The site has come under fire in recent days after a number of incidents in which rape and bomb threats were made to high profile women users.

Feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez received a large number of threatening and abusive tweets after her campaign to have a woman – other than the queen – appear on Britain's banknotes was successful. Laura Bates, who founded the Everyday Sexism project, has also received similar threats on the site.

Twitter faced accusations of not doing enough to protect its users in the wake of the incidents, and there were calls for the site to bring swifter and tougher action against anaonymous online “trolls”.

In recent days, a bomb threat was sent to Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman, Independent columnist Grace Dent and Time magazine’s Europe editor Catherine Mayer.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist