Twitter UK promises more protection from online threats, showing Facebook how it's done
Take note, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg: the head of Twitter UK publicly apologized on Saturday to a group of women who have been the target of death and rape threats from twitter users, and announced it would make it easier for users to report abusive tweets.
“I personally apologise to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through,” Twitter UK general manager Tony Wang said in a tweet. The company came under fire after critics said its initial response to the threats wasn't enough.
“The abuse they’ve received is simply not acceptable. It’s not acceptable in the real world, and it’s not acceptable on Twitter,” he said.
Over the past few hours, Wang has sent out a flurry of tweets thanking people for their feedback and sending updates about new policy changes that will make it easier for people to respond to online threats.
Twitter updated its rules and confirmed it would introduce a "report abuse" button on all platforms, including desktops.
UK police are currently investigating eight allegations of abuse including bomb and rape threats made against women.
To date, two people have been arrested for making rape threats against British MP Stella Creasy and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who received the threats after a campaign to have Jane Austen put on the new £10 banknote.
Female journalists were targeted as well:The Guardian's Hadley Freeman, Time magazine's Catherine Mayer and the Independent's Grace Dent all allegedly received bomb threats on Wednesday.
Mayor, who had sent in a complaint to Wang on Wednesday, bristled at the fact that she hadn't received a personal apology, saying she was "deeply amused" by Wang's tweets. Some suggest Twitter should have taken action much sooner, and not only after some high-profile women spoke out against threats.
But Twitter UK's apology presents a contrast from Facebook's sluggish response to reported death and rape threats, as well as racist, misogynistic and homophobic pages.
In the case of Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd, who committed suicide at age 15, after a sexual predator created a Facebook page featuring a topless photo of Todd which he obtained when she was 13. Threats to Todd through Facebook messages continued over two years, and Facebook pages bullying Todd continue to exist nine months after her death, despite numerous activists groups urging their removal.
Parents of both Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons -- a 17-year-old Nova Scotia teen who committed suicide after harassment on social media after photos from her alleged gang rape were distributed -- have dismissed Facebook's recent policy changes, which allow "controversial" pages bullying the deceased to remain online.