Frankly incandescent

The Telegraph has more.

The social networking site’s move came as a female MP called in police over rape threats she received via Twitter and detectives continued to investigate similar highly offensive messages sent to a feminist campaigner.

Caroline Criado-Perez, a writer, faced a deluge of online vitriol, including warnings that she would be killed, after she successfully lobbied for a woman to appear on a British banknote.

The trolls also targeted Stella Creasey, the Labour MP for Walthamstow in east London, for speaking out in support of Miss Criado-Perez.

Miss Creasey said she was “frankly incandescent” at Twitter’s response to the vile abuse she suffered over a 24-hour period.

One user threatened to rape her and “put the video all over the internet”, while another calling himself @rapey1 wrote: “I will rape you tomorrow at 9pm… Shall we meet near your house?”

And that’s what women “deserve” for talking.

The MP copied the messages to Waltham Forest Police’s Twitter account and said she was making a formal complaint to her local police station.

She said free speech was “incredibly important” but said it did not include the right to threaten people with rape.

“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,” she told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One.

“Twitter needs to be explicit that sexual violence and sexual aggression will not be tolerated as part of their user terms and conditions.

“We can all challenge these people and indeed when this happens to me in other occasions I tend to retweet it so people can say, ‘This is not acceptable’.”

So do I. For that reason.

Senior police officers have privately said they are extremely reluctant to get drawn into the time-consuming and highly sensitive area of trying to police the internet.

Andy Trotter, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ communications advisory group, suggested today that Twitter was not doing enough to combat internet trolls.

“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,” he said.

They do. We’re sick of being told that rape threats (however figurative they may be) don’t violate any Twitter rules.


  1. PatrickG says

    Next step will, of course, be watching to see what Twitter actually does with the results of the Report Abuse feature. Not to mention the concerns raised in the last thread — what will Twitter do with people who game the system with fraudulent reporting?

    Also, something-something FREE SPEECH CHEMTRAILS. Feels obligatory.

  2. quixote says

    Would it have a chance of working if threats of violence were off-limits? (Serious question. Really. Could it work?) Does free speech really require permission to make whatever threats anyone wants?
    If it became wrong to threaten any kind of violence, then, since all those statements are all “jokes” and “not serious” in any case (right? right?), then the only thing that would happen is people would have to come up with different jokes. “May vultures roost on your great-grandfather’s grave” instead of “I’m throwing shit at you.” (Yeah, yeah. I know.)
    But seriously. Threats of physical harm are fairly easy to identify. If those stop being allowed, doesn’t the free speech issue go away? There’s no prohibition against communicating ideas, it applies to everyone equally, and it’s simply an application of what’s already law. It’s already illegal to threaten people with phyical harm.
    At least when they’re not women and it’s not on the web.

  3. says

    “Does free speech really require permission to make whatever threats anyone wants?” Certainly not. The laws are all in place for ‘face-to-face’ abuse. The problem is enforcing it on huge social networks. If a publican catches a guest threatening other guests he can throw him out and bar him in the future, all at his own discretion. But he doesn’t have to listen in into every conversation. With social media the sheer frequency of transactions is mind-boggling and I have a suspicion: either they’ll have to hire more staff and charge users or they will have to bombard the users of their “free” services with yet more advertisements to recoup cost of policing. It’s like you pay taxes for policemen that you gave no reason to use but your evil neighbor who breaks the law (and maybe pays none) forces you to pay for your own comfort.

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