Twitter has agreed to introduce new anti-abuse measures after a public backlash over threats sent to a group of high-profile women in the UK. Twitter UK chief Tony Wang also tweeted a personal apology to the victims.
The microblogging site announced on Saturday it had introduced a “report tweet” button to its iOS and mobile web apps. The same feature, which replaces a need to visit Twitter’s Help Centre, will be rolled out to Android and Twitter.com next month.
“I personally apologise to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through,” Wang said via his personal Twitter feed on Saturday. “The abuse they’ve received is simply not acceptable. It’s not acceptable in the real world, and it’s not acceptable on Twitter. There is more we can and will be doing to protect our users against abuse. That is our commitment.”
Twitter also updated its rules to make it clear abusive behaviour would not be tolerated, announced a partnership with the UK Safer Internet Centre and said it would add staff to the teams handling abuse reports.
[contentad keyword= “left”] The threats that prompted the changes were sent to a group including feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, following Criado-Perez’s campaign to feature Jane Austen on the UK’s new £10 note, Labour MP Stella Creasy, and journalists Hadley Freeman, Grace Dent and Catherine Mayer.
On Friday, London’s Metropolitan Police Service said it was investigating allegations made by eight people subjected to harassment, malicious communication or bomb threats via Twitter. Two men have been arrested over rape threats against Criado-Perez. An online petition in support of Criado-Perez and calling for a “report abuse” button had reached over 128,000 signatures by Monday.
Criado-Perez said she welcomed Twitter’s response and Wang’s apology but that the process for reporting abuse should be further simplified. “Twitter’s ‘report abuse’ button on the iPhone application goes through to the old reporting form. What we’re looking for is an overhaul of the system which sits behind the button,” she told the BBC.
“Right now, all the emphasis is on the victim, often under intense pressure, to report rather than for Twitter to track down the perpetrator and stop them.”
Image credit: Flickr user West McGowan
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