Twitter Users Boycott Social Networking Site After String Of Threats Aimed At Women

Hundreds of Twitter users took vow of silence on the site yesterday after historian Mary Beard was the latest in a long line of women threatened with abuse on the social networking site

India Knight, Lauren Laverne and Duncan Bannatyne were among the high profile names taking part in a boycott on Twitter yesterday to protest against a series of threats made to female users of the site.

The so-called ‘trolliday’ was trending on the social networking platform with the hashtag #TwitterSilence as supporting celebrities and users collectively logged off the site for 24 hours.

In a boycott spearheaded by writer Caitlin Moran and observed by ourselves at @MarieClaireUK yesterday, users reacted to reports that historian Mary Beard, Labour MP Stella Creasy and journalist Caroline Criado-Perez were the victims of repeated threats on the site. Scotland Yard has now reevaled that its e-crime unit is looking into claims of abuse by eight people.

Caroline received rape threats from fake Twitter accounts after she campaigned for Jane Austen to be the first female woman of heritage to feature on the ten pound note, though she chose not to take part in the Twitter debate supposedly launched in her honour.

Instead, Caroline introduced a #shoutback hashtag to fight back rather than retreat against the abuse, saying: ‘I choose to remain on Twitter – I choose to #shoutback and not to stop even for a day.’

‘Sorry, but I won’t be silenced by anyone.’ she continued.

Mary Beard was the subject of further headlines when she was threatened with tweets by a user who claimed to have placed a bomb outside her home. 

Tony Wang, Twitter UK general manager, publicly apologised for the suffering of female users in true Twitter style, by posting his 140 character reaction on Saturday evening.

He said: ‘The abuse they’ve received is simply not acceptable. It’s not acceptable in the real world, and it’s not acceptable on Twitter. There is more we can and will be doing to protect our users against abuse. That is our commitment.’

The site will now be introducing a ‘report and block’ button to avoid such incidences of ‘trolling’ and making it easy for users to report abuse when such threats are made. Tony expalined that the company is testing ways to simplify the report button in the form of apps.

He said: ‘We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules.’

We want to know what you think of the boycott. How should Twitter deal with trolling? Leave your comments in the box below.

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