Television classicist Mary Beard sent bomb threat by 'trolls' just hours after apology by Twitter boss

 

Television classicist Mary Beard has received a bomb threat on Twitter just hours after the UK Twitter boss personally apologised to her and other women who had been sent threats on the site.

Ms Beard, a professor of classics at University of Cambridge, said she had contacted police after receiving a message on Saturday evening claiming a bomb had been left outside her home.

Prof Beard, 58, told BBC Radio Five Live: "There's something very strangely and awkwardly insidious about it.

"It is scary and it has got to stop. I didn't actually intellectually feel that I was in danger but I thought I was being harassed, and and I thought I was being harassed in a particularly unpleasant way."

She wrote on her Twitter page: "Just got 1 of these messages. A bomb has been placed outside your home. It will go off at exactly 10.47pm and destroy everything. Told police."

Later that evening, she added: "OK all, it's 11.00pm and we are still here. So unless the trolling bombers timekeeping is rotten.... all is well. But how stupidly nasty."

Ms Beard then took to Twitter the following morning and said she had planned to be off Twitter for a day of Twitter silence in response to the so-called "trolls", but she had received more abuse.

"Planned to be off twitter, but I've had more threats this morning (rape and worse). It IS still going on. Tried to report to Twitter, failed", she said in a tweet.

The 24 hour #Twittersilence has been spearheaded by Caitlin Moran and is being observed by many Twitter users today.

Independent columnist Grace Dent, Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman, and Europe editor of Time magazine Catherine Mayer, as well as a number of other women, have alleged they had been the subject of bomb threats on the site, while two received threats of rape.

Tony Wang, Twitter UK general manager, personally apologised to the women affected in a series of tweets on Saturday, describing abuse as "simply not acceptable".

His messages came after the website clarified its rules on threatening behaviour amid growing criticism after a series of threatening tweets were widely publicised.  

Mr Wang wrote: "I personally apologise to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through.

"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 responded to an online petition calling for Twitter to introduce a "report abuse" button to tweets which attracted more than 124,000 signatures, by adding an "in-tweet" report button. Users can now report abusive behaviour directly from a tweet, the social networking giant said.

The move comes as Scotland Yard confirmed its e-crime unit was investigating allegations by eight people of abuse on the microblogging site.

In separate incidents, Labour MP Stella Creasy and campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully fought for a woman's face to appear on £10 banknotes, were threatened on Twitter with rape. Two arrests have already been made in relation to those threats.

The anonymous Twitter accounts from which the bomb threats originated were suspended, although screen grabs were widely circulated online.

Scotland Yard said an investigation into eight allegations had been launched.

The force said: "Detectives from the Specialist Organised & Economic Crime Command have taken responsibility for the investigations into a number of allegations recently made to the MPS relating to allegations of malicious communication made on the social networking site Twitter.

"The Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), who hold the police national cyber crime remit, is now investigating allegations made by eight people that they have been subject to harassment, malicious communication or bomb threats."

It said the decision was taken to centralise the individual investigations, including three from outside London.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower