Twitter Admits Failing Rape Threat Women

Twitter tells Sky News what it is doing about online abuse following vicious tweets directed at a feminist and a woman MP.
Twitter has broken its silence over a growing row about abuse on the social media site, telling Sky News it has failed women who have faced rape threats.
Twitter’s head of safety, Del Harvey, said: “I think that any time that someone feels we weren’t responsive, or weren’t reactive or we didn’t care then, yes, we failed in that instance and we need
to do better.
“And that’s something that we have definitely had highlighted in terms of the need to educate people about what we’ve done and to get feedback on what we need to do better.”
A series of rape and death threats were made against feminist campaigner, Caroline Criado Perez, and the MP Stella Creasy,in recent days.
Twitter was criticised for not taking stronger and swifter action against the abusive messages. It insisted it took the issue seriously.
The allegations were reported to the police and an investigation was launched into the string of messages sent to Ms Criado Perez after she headed a successful campaign for a female figure to appear on UK banknotes, and the Labour MP for
Walthamstow.
A 25-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of harassment of the two women and earlier in the week police questioned and released on bail a 21-year-old man in connection with messages sent to Ms Criado-Perez.
Speaking to Sky News from San Francisco, Ms Harvey revealed that Twitter had spoken to police about abuse claims.
She also said “automated and manual systems” were already in place to prevent abuse and Twitter was now working on a further solution that will allow users to tap on a tweet and report it as abusive. Tweeters will then be asked to answer a series of questions about the abuse they have reported.
The ‘report abuse’ button, already available on its
latest iPhone app, will be extended to other platforms.
Her comments came as Ms Criado-Perez, who has
criticised the microblogging site’s security policies,
described how the online attack left her feeling “under siege” and terrified in her own home.
Ms Criado-Perez, 29, also said Twitter needs to “get a grip” on security, as it emerged bosses were likely to face a grilling from MPs.
She said the social network was ill-equipped to
handle episodes of sustained abuse and needed to
work more closely with police.
Ms Criado-Perez met Twitter directors on Monday
night along with Ms Creasy, who received a similar torrent of abusive messages after she offered support to the freelance journalist.
“This will have been a wake-up call for Twitter,” Ms Criado Perez said.
“It will hopefully have led them to realise that they are not equipped to deal with this kind of thing properly.”
The campaigner said the police also needed to “step up”.
Twitter bosses look set to face questions from MPs when the Culture, Media and Sport Committee examines issues surrounding child protection in the autumn.
Committee chair John Whittingdale said: “I would have thought it very possible that the committee might want, in the course of our inquiry, to talk to Twitter.”
He added: “It isn’t that the law needs to be changed; the question is how you identify people and how you prevent them (from abusing others online).
“That is the big question and it is one we would wish to explore with internet companies to determine whether they are doing as much as they can or whether they should do more. I think that’s
a very live issue.”

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