Twitter must do more to stop abuse, says police chief

Caroline Criado-Perez with Mark Carney and two female MPs
Image caption Caroline Criado-Perez (right) says the abuse started after her successful bank-note campaign

Twitter must do more to combat abuse after a feminist campaigner received threats of rape, a senior police officer has told the BBC.

Andy Trotter, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers communications advisory group, said Twitter must make it easier for users to report problems.

Caroline Criado-Perez faced abuse after successfully campaigning for a woman's face to appear on UK bank-notes.

A 21-year-old man arrested on suspicion of harassment offences has been bailed.

He was detained on Sunday in the Manchester area in connection with an allegation of "malicious communications" reported to the Metropolitan Police.

The Met said on Monday afternoon he had been bailed until a date in mid-September and enquiries were continuing by detectives from Camden police.

'Take responsibility'

Ms Criado-Perez, who had appeared in the media to campaign for women to feature on bank-notes, said the abusive tweets began the day it was announced that author Jane Austen would appear on the newly-designed £10 note.

She reported the matter to police after receiving "about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours" and said she had "stumbled into a nest of men who co-ordinate attacks on women".

Chief Constable Trotter told BBC Radio 4's The World At One on Monday: "I was talking to Twitter only this morning about this and, while we do work with them on some matters, I think there is a lot more to be done.

"They need to take responsibility, as do the other platforms, to deal with this at source and make sure these things do not carry on.

"They need to make it easier for victims to report these matters and, from a police perspective, they need to know that they can report these things to us."

Tens of thousands of people have so far signed an online petition demanding that Twitter introduce a "report abuse" button and review its terms and conditions on abusive behaviour.

Twitter said in a statement on Saturday that iPhone users could already report individual abusive tweets "and we plan to bring this functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web".

A spokesman added that the site encouraged users to report anyone breaking Twitter rules on conduct by using a report form.

'Hatred of women'

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Media captionStella Creasy told Martha Kearney that she's received tweets threatening her with rape

But Labour has written to Twitter complaining it was "weak" to tell Ms Criado-Perez to take her complaints to the police.

Labour MP Stella Creasy, who has herself received abusive messages for supporting Ms Criado-Perez, said Twitter "needs to be explicit that sexual violence and sexual aggression will not be tolerated as part of their user terms and conditions".

"This is not about Twitter, this is about hatred of women and hatred of women who speak up," she told The World At One.

"It is important that we do not think that somehow because this is happening online it is any less violent, any less dangerous than if people were shouting or abusing Caroline in the street in this way."

Meanwhile, classicist Prof Mary Beard - who spoke earlier this year about the online abuse she had received after appearing on the BBC's Question Time - has received an apology from another Twitter user who sent her an offensive message on Monday.

She retweeted the remark from Oliver Rawlings and following condemnation from other users, he responded: "I sincerely apologise for my trolling. I was wrong and very rude. Hope this can be forgotten and forgiven."

Talking to a fellow user about her decision to draw attention to the abuse, Prof Beard later tweeted: "It is a tough call. I have increasingly opted for name and shame.

"It has to be outed. And maybe his friends can say 'stop'."

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