Twitter boss Tony Wang says abuse of women on social network is 'not acceptable'

But apology is inadequate, victims say, and attacks must stop

The boss of Twitter UK has apologised to women who have been attacked on the social networking site, saying such abuse was “simply not acceptable”.

After a week of mounting criticism of the social media company's failure to react swiftly to the levels of online abuse, Tony Wang, Twitter UK's general manager, apologised in a series of tweets issued from his personal account, saying that abuse was "not acceptable in the real world" and "not acceptable on Twitter".

But campaigners said the apology, which had taken the company a week to issue, had come too late.

Police are currently investigating eight allegations of abuse, including rape and bomb threats, made against female journalists and campaigners. Two people have since been arrested in connection to rape threats against the journalist Caroline Criado-Perez and the Labour MP Stella Creasy.

Ms Criado-Perez, 29, began receiving the threats after leading a campaign to have Jane Austen on the new £10 note.

The revelations sparked a backlash online, with a petition calling for Twitter to add a "report abuse" button to tweets attracting more than 125,000 signatures so far.

Mr Wang tweeted: "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."

Mr Wang also promised the company would do more to combat abusive behaviour, with additional staff being brought in to handle abuse reports.

In a message posted on the Twitter blog, he and the company's senior director for trust and safety, Del Harvey, said the company had clarified its anti-harassment policy to emphasise that Twitter will not tolerate abusive behaviour, and that the "in-tweet" report button, which is already available on Twitter's iPhone app, will be available to all users from next month, allowing them to report abusive behaviour directly from a tweet.

However, the reaction to Mr Wang's apology was mixed. Ms Criado-Perez said: "While I'm pleased they're listening, it's taken Twitter a week to come up with this.

"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," she added.

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, agreed that while the new abuse button could potentially "be a welcome development", it was not an adequate response to the "cyber-stalking" she and other women have experienced.

"We have a protocol that deals with offline violence or harassment [but] we need to find ways to make this work online, where people are living now," she said."

Others took to Twitter to complain about the length of time it took the company to issue an apology. One tweeted: "Nice of [Tony Wang] to surface after a few days with the lawyers and the PR heads." Another said: "The apology to women in the UK by [Mr Wang] is too little too late. The abuse should never have been possible. This is spin."

Meanwhile, many users pointed out that other groups besides women are affected. Anti-Semitism, for example, is rife on Twitter.

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

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor