Twitter faces boycott after 'inaction' over rape threats against feminist bank notes campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez

Ms Criado-Perez played prominent role in ensuring that Jane Austen would feature on the new £10 note

The popular social networking site Twitter is facing a major backlash over claims it is failing to deal with threats of sexual abuse made on its site.

A host of MPs and other leading public figures have threatened a boycott after a feminist campaigner highlighted numerous threats of rape and other violent acts being sent to her on Twitter. Caroline Criado-Perez, who finally won her fight to have prominent women represented on Britain’s bank notes this week, claimed that her complaints to the site have been ignored.

A petition was soon set up demanding more robust action from the site and attracted more than 6,000 signatures within three hours. That figure had passed the 11,000 mark this afternoon.

“It is a problem involving a certain type of man who can’t cope with a woman being vocal and being in the public eye. They deal with it by shutting women up with threats of sexual violence. It is nothing new, it has been going on for millennia; this is just its most recent incarnation,” said Ms Criado-Perez.

The campaign of hatred against her began during her bank note fight. Ms Criado-Perez, who also runs the Women’s Room campaign to promote women in the media, played a pivotal role in ensuring that Jane Austen would feature on the £10 note.

And she said that, once the decision was announced by new Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, the abuse escalated and began to attract the attention of fellow Twitter users. She reported it to the police and claims that she  tried to alert Twitter’s manager of journalism & news Mark Luckie. But  his response appeared to be to simply set his account to private, making his updates invisible to most users. Ms Criado-Perez said she is still awaiting a substantive response.

She added: “The internet makes it very easy to make this sort of threat, and sites that don’t make it easy to report abuse like this make men like those who have been threatening me feel like there will be no comeback. I told some of them they would not get away with it and they just laughed; at the moment, they are right.

“There has been a deafening silence from Twitter. The accounts of the men who said those things are still active. There needs to be a massive culture shift at Twitter.”

A host of people threatened to boycott Twitter on 4 August in protest at its perceived inaction. Journalist Caitlin Moran wrote: “We could all leave on August 4th - International Friendship Day, kind of apt.” And, referring to the act of posting provocative messages online – known as “trolling” - she added: “[We should] tweet the holding message ‘Waiting for a troll solution.’”

She received support from actress Rebecca Front and comedian Dara Ó Briain, among others. But some pointed out that the abuse meted out to Ms Criado-Perez went beyond simple trolling and constituted a serious criminal offence.

MPs Stella Creasy, Yvette Cooper, Diane Abbott and John Woodcock all expressed disgust at the abuse. Ms Creasy said: “What Caroline has had to deal with in the past day is not only disgusting, but criminal. A quick look at Twitter this morning shows that women are not prepared to stand by and take this kind of abuse. Twitter needs to get its house in order, and fast.”

John Coventry, spokesman for Change.org - which is hosting the petition to have a more effective reporting system installed – said: “Caroline’s shown already this week with the Bank of England that campaigning works - it will be fascinating to see how Twitter responds - thousands signing a petition in one morning is a significant backlash.”

Kim Graham, who started the petition, said: “I couldn’t believe what I was reading yesterday. Caroline’s campaign was phenomenal and now she’s facing a relentless barrage of violent threats. I set up this Change.org petition because Twitter must take some responsibility for this.”

A Twitter spokesman refused to comment on an individual account. The spokesman added: “However, we have rules which people agree to abide by when they sign up to Twitter. We will suspend accounts that once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules. We encourage users to report an account for violation of the Twitter rules by using one of our report forms.”

The site has always maintained that it exists to offer an open platform for free expression but it does have a record of suspending users who use Twitter to abuse others.

Read more

Caroline Criado-Perez: Rape threats on Twitter won't get women to shut up up. If we shout back we'll win

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee