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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent