To think that it's time that explicit threats of sexual violence were dealt with.

(78 Posts)
Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 16:44:44


WARNING: potentially triggering

The woman MP who highlighted Twitter's inadequate response to rape threats directed at Caroline Criado-Perez (the woman who campaigned to have at least one female historical figure represented on our bank notes) has now been targeted with rape threats. Graphic threats.

Enough is enough. This happens to women online who give any sort of opinion. It happens to teenage girls and middle aged women. To the left wing and the right. To those who are in the media spotlight and to people you've never heard of.

It's not just words. It's a crime. Let's get it treated as one.

Scrubber Mon 29-Jul-13 16:49:49

Absolutely right!

TylerHopkins Mon 29-Jul-13 16:49:59

I saw some similar vile remarks on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't believe someone could write something so nasty and get away with it. I looked for a 'report' button but couldn't find one. I looked further and found how difficult it was to stop this kind of stuff. It's disgusting. Twitter just don't care. It's a license for people to bully and abuse.

I agree with the OP, we need to do something about this.

ShutTheFuckUpBarbara Mon 29-Jul-13 16:51:39

There is a petition on!

Absolutely. I hate that so many think we should just stay quiet and hope it goes away. A threat of rape should never ever be left to stand!


I don't do twitter but that's vile, why are these crimes not taken seriously in this day and age? It scares me that I am due a daughter in dec. what sort of world am I bringing her in to? It's like we're still in the dark ages.

GetStuffezd Mon 29-Jul-13 16:54:43

Absolutely. If they were threats to kill they'd be dealt with, so why not threats to rape, etc.

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 16:54:45

The one about boycotting Twitter? A report button would help but the change needs to come from those the threats are reported to.

WilsonFrickett Mon 29-Jul-13 16:56:24
Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 16:58:54

Thank you. The petition is a good start. I'd like to know that if people do report (when that becomes possible) that legal action is taken.

SirChenjin Mon 29-Jul-13 17:01:51

Agree OP, but I'd like to widen the reporting to include any threat of violence

Thanks Wilson. Have signed.

I agree op.

ChubbyKitty Mon 29-Jul-13 17:06:50

Signed it and shared it on fb.

Caster8 Mon 29-Jul-13 17:35:26

If it gets widened, where does it stop? March 100,000 people to the police station? Get them all cautioned?

SirChenjin Mon 29-Jul-13 17:42:23

If someone makes a threat to harm someone else in person, then it can be reported to the police. We don't question that process - why do we tolerate it on Twitter?

caster Are you saying that if lots of people commit a crime we should narrow the definition?

I think Caster is saying that men have a right to make rape threats.

MrsKeithRichards Mon 29-Jul-13 18:20:50

That's gross

Tee2072 Mon 29-Jul-13 18:25:16

Sorry. Report button is going to do bupkis. Twitter gets something like 400m posts a day. No way to moderate or even respond to a report abuse button without hiring major staff. Not going to happen.

What we need is education as to what is appropriate behaviour in the world. Not in the UK. The 'net is lawless, after all.

The person who made threats against Caroline was arrested, because he lives in the UK. But if he had not, there would be nothing the UK police could have done.

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 18:40:44

It's already illegal. Pursuing some of the worst offenders, having them identified publicly, be convicted, lose their jobs etc is going to put make people think twice.

The response to these comments is usually that it's '14 year old boys' or untraceable accounts. The whole point is that it's become so tolerated that it's often not anonymous. People post abusive crap at women from identifiable accounts because it doesn't occur to them that there will ever be any consequences for them! Adult men with jobs and families. And people still suggest that the recipients should delete it or stop posting if 'they can't handle it.'

It's not acceptable. It is a big deal.

Caster8 Mon 29-Jul-13 18:43:06

No of course men do not have a right to make rape threats.
I was responding to SirChenjin who wanted it widened to all violence.
Brilliiant. I would love for there to be no threats, no bullying, no anything nasty on twitter, facebook, on here, everywhere.
I am agreeing with Tee.
400m posts a day. If say 10% are yuk, which they probably are, that is 4m posts, so potentially 4m people around the world.
Major staff as she says.
If it is workable, how wonderful.
Does anyone think it is workable?

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 18:46:52

If it breaks the law it's their problem. They happily collect the profits, it's time for them to take some responsibility.

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 18:49:37

Isn't it a shame they don't work in a field that would allow them to in some way search through vast amounts of information using some form of algorithm...

LondonMan Mon 29-Jul-13 18:56:47

My first thought was also that it would be too expensive for Twitter to do anything, but my second (and speaking as a non-user who barely knows what Twitter is) is that it wouldn't be to difficult to automate the shutdown of accounts that produced too much outrage, no human intervention required.

Tee2072 Mon 29-Jul-13 18:59:34

Twitter is an American company with offices worldwide.

Whose laws should they follow?

ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmmmmmmm Mon 29-Jul-13 19:04:55

Twitter account closed.

New email address.

New twitter account opened.

10 minutes max.

It's a huge problem. Some sympathy for the " it's Twitters problem, they should deal with it" POV.

But really, the problem is with the cretinous posters. Some form of public naming and shaming/mockery?

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 19:19:41

America is the perfect example. They expect overseas based companies to follow their laws all the time! I'll get DH to give you a half hour rant precis when he gets in if you'd like?

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 19:27:48

Agree that it's easy to do that. But people don't feel the need to do it.

For some women who're being attacked it's a concerted stream of abuse that goes on for days. For others it might be one person from the same account abusing them over a long period of time.

The point is that ignoring/blocking/suggesting we can't stop it all so why try is the equivalent of a green light. We know the abuse women get online for being women. This isn't about that! It's setting aside the landslide of 'Slut' and 'Cunt' and 'Ugly Bitch' and even the relentless sexual comments targeted at girls from their teens up about what they'd like to do to them. It is about specific, graphic rape threats.

SirChenjin Mon 29-Jul-13 19:27:58

Deal with it in the country where the threat originates.

It's time that we stopped looking for problems and focussed on the solutions. Or rather - Twitter should, instead of shaking their heads and making out that "it's all too difficult for the super bright people who work for us, really it is". They need to divert more time, effort and brain power to this issue rather than working out how to increase their vast profits.

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 19:32:02

I wonder how long it would take them to deal with it if people started tweeting something libellous about a big US company - not that I would ever suggest something like that. I'd bet they'd pull those quickly and not expect Coca Cola or Disney to block individual Twitter users.

ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmmmmmmm Mon 29-Jul-13 19:49:04

And WTAF got people so angry about a woman trying to get more women on bank notes?

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 19:55:40

I know. It's bizarre. It seems to be that anything where women express an opinion provokes a reaction and the use of the word 'fe minist' is like a red flag to a misogynist fuckwir.

SirChenjin Mon 29-Jul-13 20:20:54

Agree - it is such a bizarre thing to get so angry about. I don't suppose we're dealing with rational, right minded people here though.

ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmmmmmmm Mon 29-Jul-13 20:26:29

Heard her on Radio Four, and I was a bit "hmm if that's all you've got to worry about etc " , but bloody hell, couldn't believe it when I heard the sort of abuse she was getting. Would be a heck of a shame if these bullies got their own way. Coincidentally, another item on Womans Hour was about the difficulty of getting high profile women to appear as guests, commentators etc on the radio. One possible explanation was the fear of the twittersphere...............

MalcolmTuckersMum Mon 29-Jul-13 20:31:36

It's not just her - and by that I don't mean to minimise what she's been through - has anyone seen what vile shit has been constantly thrown at Mary Beard? It makes me despair really. I rarely use Twitter and all this ghastly violent misogyny makes me want to use it even less in the future.

LoveBeingItsABoy Mon 29-Jul-13 20:36:41

Totally needs to be dealt with

SirChenjin Mon 29-Jul-13 20:56:09

Yep. We can allow Twitter and the like to bury their heads in the sands or we can say no, deal with this issue, and throw every penny and every person you have at it. I'm going with the latter.

Bloody hell, even MN has a 'report' function beside each post. Maybe Twitter could speak to HQ?!

Tee2072 Mon 29-Jul-13 21:00:14

MN has 35,000 posts a day. Did you see where I said Twitter has 400m?

If they write an algorithm to catch abuse, who is going to decide what keywords to use? If I Tweet that I've been abused, looking for help, will I get deleted because of the words?

This isn't just a matter of throw people and tech at it. If it was, it would already be solved. This is a matter of thinking about it and finding the right solution, not a stop gap or ill thought out solution.

Just like Cameron's porn filter, actually...

SirChenjin Mon 29-Jul-13 22:37:32

Yes, I saw where you said 400m (it's actually more like 500m, but I'm not going to nitpick). Did you see where I said that I'm sure Twitter could put its best brains to work and come up with a the solution? This is a massive organisation, with vast resources. I'd like to see them leading on this and taking a stance, rather than locking down their own accounts and hiding away. Hell, there isn't even a report abuse function on their main site, they direct users who complain to online forms which they then have to submit - The Guardian summarises Twitters lacklustre response very well here

There is far too much can't do and fingers in ears from Twitter and ISPs, rather than can do and leading the way.

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 23:32:08

This is nothing like the porn filter. Language is filtered all the time. It's a lot easier to target than images.

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 23:36:13

Twitter messages are also limited to 140 characters. So it's not like they are incredibly difficult to work through. There may be 500 million, but they're about this long.

complexnumber Mon 29-Jul-13 23:41:45

This is nothing like the porn filter. Language is filtered all the time

As long as it's in English. Apparently Eton college set up it's own language filter, only for it's students to search for porn in French or German.

I had a lot of trouble accessing stuff from Sussex University a few years back when in Istanbul.

How would you expect a filter to detect porn in Cantonese, or Hungarian, or Welsh. It's not that easy.

edam Mon 29-Jul-13 23:45:26

Yeah, right, social media is really hard for Twitter to get their heads round... it's a pathetic excuse. What they really mean is "we don't care about it". Tough. They get all excited about how Important they are, and how crap old media is - let's see them face up to some of the responsibility that operating in the mass media involves.

Tee is right, a filter will not work.

The thing I'd like to see them do is take reports more seriously, and maybe not suspend accounts who call out the people making the threats. They will never catch all of them, there's no way on earth they could, but if they could at least deal with the ones they do catch. Maybe a three strikes rule.

It's the disproportionate response from twitter that winds me up.

complexnumber Mon 29-Jul-13 23:49:55

Rwy'n credu bod angen i werthfawrogi lleferydd rhad ac am ddim.

Edit: And yes, an easier reporting system would go a long way.

OllyPurrrs Mon 29-Jul-13 23:53:54

I agree op, I saw this on the wright stuff and I was so shocked. The way Matthew Wright was saying is that you should expect it if you use twitter, and if you can't handle it then you shouldn't have joined! It's not the same as being a bit mean or name calling, so it isn't a case of somebody being oversensitive.. Threatening sexual violence against somebody shouldn't be just accepted or put up with just because it's happening online, it's still a threat and should be treated seriously. It's been bothering me all day how Matthew seemed to dismiss it as not a big deal.

complexnumber Tue 30-Jul-13 00:05:36

OllyPurrrs I agree entirely with "Threatening sexual violence against somebody shouldn't be just accepted or put up with just because it's happening online"

Good words.

However dealing with the issue goes beyond some hi-tech quik-fix Elastoplast solution.

So I do not think knee jerk reactions against Twitter will lead to a meaningful result.

OllyPurrrs Tue 30-Jul-13 00:22:39

Thanks complexnumber I agree, and I don't think it's just about twitter either, individuals need to be held responsible for the things they say, it's just not on to threaten people that way and I wish they could be held accountable.

SirChenjin Tue 30-Jul-13 08:10:23

Is this knee jerk? I don't think so - this issue has been around for a long time, and Twitter have done FA.

I used to moderate a small internet forum. It was relatively peaceful, but we got the odd reported message from time to time, reported by our forum users, when there were suspected spambots, arguments devolving into personal insults and one person in particular who used to get hysterical about the tiniest of things, hurl abuse at anyone she thought deserved it, got banned and then came back with a new account to be banned again. Banning her took all of five minutes out of my day when it happened.

Twitter can take care of this, it's just that they won't. Even 4chan, pretty much the most awful den of iniquity on the internet, is capable of banning people and their posters are supposed to be anonymous. It's never anonymous, someone out there with the necessary skill can track you down if they feel the need. See here for details:

What twitter should do, in good faith, is the same thing facebook does on a wider scale: hire people trained to crack down on trolling and get them to do it, day in and day out. Hire lots of them. Problem is, that's a good moral decision but not a good business decision. It would cost them millions in training and wages. Even outside of the law, it's not hard for a social media giant to have its rules and enforce them. Mumsnet does it, Tumblr does it, Pinterest does it brilliantly, Facebook not so well but they try, and 4chan does it best because those people can be so bloody-minded and have some of the best hackers on the internet.

A public naming and shaming would do the job nicely. The men with families and a good public image would have to put up with being the shame of their families and the ones who don't care would be weeded out as criminals and prosecuted once they go too far.

Hang on.. hang on.. did you just say 4chan is the best moderated???

Actually, this would make a very good business opportunity for some hard-nosed, thick-skinned person. If someone gets a rape threat on twitter or elsewhere, report it to this person (let's call the Bloodhound) for a small fee, or even a list of all said threats, and Bloodhound would track down the threateners and contact their family and friends to alert them as to what their loved one is getting up to online. Workplaces if needed, police if also needed. Hell, I've recieved some abuse for certain reasons and I wouldn't have minded paying a small fee to see the people responsible named and shamed.

Yes MOG, I did. I've seen it happen. That hysterical person I cited earlier managed to get a lifetime ban and her image plastered all over the boards she was banned from. They have a high tolerance level for foulness but they crack down when people go too far.

The problem with citing 4chan is that their tolerance for vile behaviour is so high that there aren't going to be so many users that they think are beyond the pale. So not as much to moderate.

The problem with Twitter is the sheer scale of the problem.

Lazyjaney Tue 30-Jul-13 09:33:00

The problem with Twitter is the sheer scale of the problem

And the minute you allow people to report others in the hope of shutting them up the volume of reports will go stratospheric.

Surely if people said unpleasant things on record they can be charged? Then the police can ask Twitter for their details and they can be prosecuted.

LessMissAbs Tue 30-Jul-13 11:15:35

I do not see why sexually aggravated remarks have not been made an offence, alongside racially aggravated ones. If its possible to police the latter, it must be possible to police the former.

I'm listening to Jeremy vine on radio 2 discussing this again, Mary beard was trolled whilst appearing on the show yesterday (to discuss this) and retweeted the abuse, to challenge the abuse

SirChenjin Tue 30-Jul-13 12:26:35

Just because something is widespread doesn't (and shouldn't) mean that Twitter should be excused from tackling the issue head on - if anything, it means they've let the probem drag on for far too long. It is not outwith the realms of possibility to deal with the problem, it's just that Twitter choose not to, instead diverting resources to increasing profits. They, and other similar services and ISPs (sorry Murder! wink) have got away with far too much for far too long. If they choose not to lead from the front then it's inevitable they will be pushed from behind, and I have no sympathy for them.

sir Problem is, we can't expect them to do something which is actually impossible (eg. keep up with removing all threats from Twitter). However they should definitely be doing more than they currently are.

SirChenjin Tue 30-Jul-13 12:54:47

Is it impossible? I don't suppose we'll actually know that until they try - and by that I mean throwing everything they have at the problem, and not just making a half hearted attempt.

But yes, I agree, they definitely need to do more than they are (and have been) doing.

People who use twitter to make threats aren't clever enough to cover their tracks, it would take very little effort for someone with the right training to find out who is behind a particular remark and wreak suitable havoc on their personal life. Hell, I did it myself when someone decided that my issues stemming from childhood abuse were hilarious and totally worth joking about. Tracked him down in minutes, turned an entire community against him. Last time I saw him I could literally feel the hate rolling off him in waves.

sir Just in terms of the sheer number of tweets going up, I think they'd need a staff of thousands, actually more, just looked up how many tweets go up per day, 400 million! And from what I know of Twitter I dread to think how many of those are threatening! You just couldn't keep up with that.

They do need to remove more though, improve the reporting system, improve the training in which accounts get suspended/banned, oh and teach their staff not to lock down their accounts when asked awkward questions.

SirChenjin Tue 30-Jul-13 21:50:14

Murder - I'm not suggesting that they monitor every Tweet - but they definitely need to do more, and I agree absolutely with what you've identified. I think there also needs to be a culture shift, which I know will take time, but imo they need to take a hard line and make it clear that the Twitter platform won't support threats of violence etc. It seems (to me) as if it's been allowed to become a free for all with Twitter doing very little in response.

Oh I know, sorry if I wasn't clear. I just meant they'll never catch all the threats.

Culture shift is the big one isn't it? Feels like we're trying to cut down a mountain with nail scissors sometimes doesn't it?

I get that feeling with Twitter too. I get that they pride themselves on not being heavily moderated, but they've got to take some responsibility.

edam Tue 30-Jul-13 22:17:43

IIRC MN removed the volunteer mods when there was the whole Top Parenting Guru Gets Offended debacle - I think if you have mods it makes you much more responsible for monitoring and reacting to potentially actionable posts (I could be out of date here, or have misunderstood, though).

However, Twitter and Facebook et al need to get smarter at identifying and removing illegal posts. Harassment is illegal. Threats of violence can be illegal (depending on whether they are serious and addressed to a named individual or group).

That's not just about having a report button. It's about actually assessing the reports that come in to see whether they are serious and important and potentially illegal - so that reporting isn't used to silence women (and others) by aggrieved misogynists/racists/etc. It can't just be put in a box labelled 'too difficult' - Twitter isn't beyond the law.

Making it clear in terms of service that misogyny, racism, homophobia, disablism, harassment, threatening behaviour etc. will not be tolerated and you can be chucked off for indulging in it might help.

What would also help is making sure all staff, including senior management, have diversity training. Not just about race/religion either (which the ill-informed often think is 'the issue', ignoring other forms of hatred).

SirChenjin Tue 30-Jul-13 22:20:16

I completely agree. There is a lot to be done - they have created a monster that's for sure, but they can't carry on doing little or nothing. It will be very interesting to see what happens over the next couple of years.

wasabipeanut Tue 30-Jul-13 22:20:57

Well the problem is clearly high on everyone's agenda. I think it just got about 7 seconds on the 10 O'Clock News.

edam Tue 30-Jul-13 22:21:14

Btw, Twitter's media section says they deal with 200m tweets a day, not 400m as quoted in various places about this issue. Still an enormous number, but half what has been claimed when they say 'ooh, it's too difficult'.

edam Tue 30-Jul-13 22:24:25

twitter's head of 'trust and safety' told ITN they DO have policies against violence. So WTF did their UK boss block the woman who complained about rape threats, instead of dealing with it?

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 31-Jul-13 10:24:54

This would snowball if Twitter took action against these threats. If they start a case with this, where does it end? They'd never be out of the courts! It happens every day, tbh. The woman highlighted is wealthy, so the attention seems to be on her because she wants a woman's face on a banknote, but what about others in every day life (who are not so wealthy) who use Twitter and get abuse from others???

SirChenjin Wed 31-Jul-13 18:07:33

I would imagine that they wouldn't drag their heels if profits were affected as a result of numerous court cases. It's only because there really isn't any form of recourse for the average man or woman that Twitter have got away with doing very little to date...

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 31-Jul-13 18:40:03

I would like to see all the other countless men and women (from working class backgrounds) who've encountered abuse on social networking sites getting as much publicity as the woman mentioned in the OP. That is all.

SirChenjin Wed 31-Jul-13 19:21:57

I agree, but perhaps this will come now that they have been taken to task so publicly. I do hope so.

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 31-Jul-13 21:19:43

But why should it take someone who's got a double barrelled surname, from a fairly well-off background to have to be attacked on a social networking site before action is taken for the greater good? Could someone who is working class who's already been through this not have had the spotlight on them first?

That's what really hacks me off, sorry. I'm just not buying into this particular woman who is grabbing all the spotlight just now. She's not the first, you know!

SirChenjin Wed 31-Jul-13 22:16:20

I know she's not the first - she's nothing like the first - but I think she is one of the people in the current spotlight who really has caught the attention of the public. Being threatened with anal rape because she wanted a female figure on a bank note is so utterly ridiculous and horrific it's unbelievable, and the subsequent reaction from Twitter has been pathetically limp.

I actually don't care whether she has a double barrelled name and comes from a well off background - no woman (or man) should have to put up with threats of this nature.

Foreps123 Tue 06-Aug-13 21:16:43

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