Twitter Rape Row: Report Abuse Button Agreed

Twitter has agreed to install a report abuse button on every tweet after a feminist campaigner was subjected to a barrage of online rape threats.

Caroline Criado-Perez was receiving a threatening tweet nearly every minute at the height of the abuse after she successfully campaigned to have a female figure on the £10 bank note.

Her treatment sparked a furore and a 12,500-strong petition, which urged Twitter to take faster and stronger action against those posting abuse, and has called for an August 4 boycott.

In the three days since Ms Criado-Perez disclosed the level of abuse she has received Twitter insisted it had adequate processes in place to deal with the sexual abuse of women online.

However, the firm's inaction prompted a furious response from a number of women MPs, who demanded it do better, and Twitter has today agreed to the button.

A spokesman for the microblogging site said: "The ability to report individual tweets for abuse is currently available on Twitter for iPhone, and we plan to bring this functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web."

He added: "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."

Ms Criado-Perez, a freelance journalist, said: "It's sadly not unusual to get this kind of abuse but I've never seen it get as intense or aggressive as this.

"It's infuriating that the price you pay for standing up for women is 24 hours of rape threats. We are showing that by standing together we can make a real difference."

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy, who has been supporting Ms Criado-Perez and has also been subjected to online abuse, said that more still needed to be done.

She told Sky News Twitter needed to make it clearer in its service code that sexual harassment would not be tolerated and that they needed to develop closer links with the police.

"This is illegal activity, it would be illegal if somebody said this to you in the street, it would be a form of harassment. It is illegal online," she said.

"I have been incandescent with Twitter because since Friday night when Caroline contacted me very, very distressed about what was happening to her, we have been trying to get a serious response out of Twitter."

She added: "It's only today that they confirmed to me that they are actually working with the police who have made formal requests to them for assistance."

Police questioned a 21-year-old man, from Manchester, in connection with the allegations of abuse made by Ms Criado-Perez. He was arrested on suspicion of harassment offences. He has been released on police bail.

Complaints of crimes involving Facebook and Twitter increased by 780% in four years, according to official police figures from 29 British forces.

The phenomenon of social networking crime was comparatively minor in 2008 when 556 reports were made. Last year this figure stood at 4,908.

Ms Criado-Perez is one of a number of women writing and campaigning online to have been subjected to abuse.

The founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates, told Sky News that she had been threatened so seriously online that she actually moved out of her home for a while.

Television classicist Mary Beard silenced an internet troll after naming and shaming him on Twitter.

Beard, professor of classics at University of Cambridge, retweeted the "highly offensive" post from Oliver Rawlings, who has 243 followers on the social networking site, earlier today. He swiftly apologised after another user threatened to tell his mother.

Andy Trotter, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) communications advisory group, told the Radio 4’s World at One that Twitter was not doing enough to combat internet trolls.

He said: "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 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."