Activist's Twitter Rape Threats Lead to Arrest, May Result in New Abuse Reporting Mechanism

Josh WolfordSocial Media

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Late last week, The Bank of England announced that the face of author Jane Austen would adorn the country's new 10-pound notes - some time in 2017. Austen will replace Charles Darwin, who has been the face of the bill.

The move came in response to criticisms that women were being ignored and excluded from appearing on England's currency. And one of the leading voices of that criticism came from journalist and feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez, who has faced a series of abusive tweets from disgruntled Twitter users and trolls. According to Criado-Perez, shortly after the announcement of the new currency, she was receiving upwards of 50 rape threats an hour.

And now, one man has been arrested in connection with one of these rape threats. Sky News reports that a 21-year-old man has been booked on charges of harassment.

"It was really really disturbing to find that something as small as asking for one woman on a banknote could result in such a barrage of threats of sexual violence. It's just not acceptable and more than that it's actually a crime and Twitter needs to take it seriously and the police need to take it seriously," said Criado-Perez.

She's definitely not alone in feeling that Twitter needs to step up and make it easier to report abusive tweets. Shortly after she began receiving the threats, a petition went up on and quickly gained steam.

You can report accounts for violation via Twitter's support forms, but the petitioners want Twitter to implement a "report abuse" button that will be available on every single tweet.

"We need Twitter to recognise that it's current reporting system is below required standards. It currently requires users to search for details on how to report someone for abuse; A feature that should be available on each user's page," says the petition, which is up to nearly 60,000 signatures. "The report abuse button needs to be accompanied by Twitter reviewing the T&C on abusive behaviour to reflect an awareness of the complexity of violence against women, and the multiple oppressions women's time Twitter started protecting its users."

And it appears that Twitter is listening. Twitter UK General Manager Tony Wang said that the company is testing new simple reporting features:

Adding a new report button to all tweets would undoubtedly make it easier for Twitter to remove offending accounts at a faster clip - and that's really all you can hope for. There's no way that Twitter will be able to eliminate trolling or legitimate threats on the site - there is simply too many users and too much information being exchanged at any given moment. But when speech turns into threats, there's really no downside in having clearer tools to report them.

All over this. Get a grip, people:

Josh Wolford

Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer.

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