Twitter Rape Row: Abuse At £10 Note Campaigner

Twitter has become embroiled in a rape row after the woman who headed the campaign for a female figure on banknotes was subjected to vile sexual threats on the microblogging site.

Caroline Criado-Perez received rape threats on Twitter nearly every minute in the 48 hours after the new Jane Austen £10 note was unveiled .

Ms Criado-Perez, co-founder of the Women's Room , an online database of female experts, has highlighted the abuse on her Twitter account and blog by posting a number of the messages.

It has sparked a campaign for Twitter to install a 'report abuse' button on every post.

One supporter, Norfolk woman Kim Graham, has started an online petition which, by Saturday afternoon, had garnered support from over 12,000 people.

Writing on the petition Ms Graham said: "We need Twitter to recognise that its current reporting system is below required standards. It currently requires users to search for details on how to report someone for abuse; a feature that should be available on each user's page."

A movement has been started under the Twitter hashtag #takebacktwitter, which includes some MPs and women journalists and calls on the social networking site to take action.

Writing in the New Statesman, Ms Criado-Perez said: "The rape threats started on Thursday, and have continued for the past forty-eight hours. And this experience is by no means unique to me.

"Amid the abuse, I have received countless messages from women telling me of their experiences.

"The head of WHO called violence against women a 'global health problem of epidemic proportions'; she should take a look at twitter, where we have our own nasty little epidemic: an epidemic of misogynistic men who feel so threatened by any woman speaking up, that they feel they must immediately silence her with a threat of sexual violence."

She said that when supporters started posting messages to Twitter's manager of News and Journalism, Mark S Luckie, about the rape threats, he locked his account. 

She said she was getting 50 rape threats every hour.

However, Tony Wang, general manager of Twitter in the UK, posted a series of messages on Saturday which appeared to be in response to the row.

His Tweets included: "We take abuse seriously and will investigate reports made via support.twitter.com/forms. For more info, see support.twitter.com."

And: "Also, we're testing ways to simplify reporting, e.g. within a Tweet by using the "Report Tweet" button in our iPhone app and on mobile web.

And: "We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules."

But Ms Criado-Perez pointed out that the report process was too lengthy for someone who had been subjected to a "tidal wave of abuse".

Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, is one of those supporting Ms Criado Perez.

"What Caroline has had to deal with in the past day is not only disgusting, but criminal," she said.

"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."

Labour MP for Hackney Diane Abbott wrote on Twitter: "Shocked at the abuse @CCriadoPerez has had to put up with. Almost as shocked that @marksluckie refuses to do anything about it."

The Sunday Times columnist India Knight posted a tweet saying: “If you have concerns about the grotesque abuse directed at @CCriadoPerez, @TonyW is the general manager of UK Twitter."

While The Times journalist Caitlin Moran pointed out: "For those who say "Why complain - just block?" - on a big troll day, it can be 50 violent/rape messages an hour. exhausting and upsetting."

A spokesman from the Metropolitan Police confirmed to Sky News that officers in Camden had received "an allegation regarding comments made on a social networking site", reported on Thursday 25 July.

Inquires are continuing and no arrests have yet been made, he said.