Is the site doing enough to protect female users?
Words by Anna Clarke
The social media site, Twitter, is failing to put a stop to the online abuse of women using its platform, a new report, by Amnesty International has claimed. Published on Wednesday, the same day that the micro-blogging site commemorates 12 years since its very first tweet was sent, Toxic Twitter examines the ‘scale, nature and impact of violence and abuse directed towards women on Twitter.’
‘Every day, women face violent threats, sexism, racism and more on Twitter. This abuse is flooding Twitter, forcing women out of public conversations – and at times, driving them off the platform. The abuse can be more intense for women of colour, women with disabilities; lesbian, bisexual, trans women, and non-binary people,’ explains Amnesty International’s campaign page.
The human rights group carried out a survey with 1,100 British women and found that only 9% believed Twitter was doing enough to prevent abuse against females on the site. In comparison 78% did not feel they could share an opinion, so in effect they self-censor, concerned there would be hostile reprisals.
‘For far too long Twitter has been a space where women can too easily be confronted with death or rape threats, and where their genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations are under attack,’ said Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK.
‘The trolls are currently winning, because despite repeated promises, Twitter is failing to do enough to stop them. Twitter must take concrete steps to address and prevent violence and abuse against women on its platform, otherwise its claim to be on women’s side is meaningless.’
They also conducted a report #ToxicTwitter, where over 80 women were interviewed, including politicians, journalists, comedians and other users across the UK and USA.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has already declared her support for the research, saying she is concerned that such abuse might deter young women from entering public life.
‘What makes me angry when I read that kind of abuse directed at me is that I worry that it is putting the next generation of women off politics,’ she said.
Twitter responded to Amnesty International, reiterating that such abuse is banned from their site and they have made changes to the platform to improve the safety of users.
‘Abuse and hateful conduct directed at women, including direct threats of violence, and harassment, are prohibited on Twitter. We have made more than 30 individual changes to our product, policies and operations in the past 16 months, all with the goal of improving safety for everyone. We now take action on 10 times the number of abusive accounts as the same time last year.’