Twitter adds abuse-reporting function

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Caroline-Criado-Perez
Caroline Criado-Perez: Threatened by Twitter messages

Twitter announced on July 29 that it will now be easier for users to report harassment and abuse from other users. This announcement comes after a shocking high-profile episode in which a British feminist activist was relentlessly tormented with threats of rape and murder.

In a blog post entitled “We hear you,” Twitter’s Senior Director of Trust & Safety, Del Harvey, said that the company has introduced a function where users can report an individual tweet on the iPhone app and on the mobile version of the site, and the function will soon be available on desktop and Android versions as well.

This move was prompted by a public outcry over the Twitter-treatment of Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully campaigned to have the image of ground-breaking evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin on the British £10 note replaced with a likeness of Victorian author Jane Austen.

When the Bank of England announced that Jane Austen would be featured on the new note, Criado-Perez began to receive threats of rape and murder on Twitter. This situation came to the attention of Change.org, an advocacy group, which started an online campaign demanding that Twitter “Add a report button to Tweets.” This all happened in rapid succession, and Twitter’s response was prompt.

On July 29, Harvey wrote in a blog post on Twitter’s UK site: “We see an incredible amount of activity passing through our systems – there are more than 400 million Tweets sent every day worldwide. Those Tweets not only appear on our site and in our apps, but are also embedded into the fabric of traditional and digital media.”

The vast majority of these use cases are positive. That said, we are not blind to the reality that there will always be people using Twitter in ways that are abusive and may harm others.

While manually reviewing every Tweet is not possible due to Twitter’s global reach and level of activity, we use both automated and manual systems to evaluate reports of users potentially violating our Twitter Rules. These rules explicitly bar direct, specific threats of violence against others and use of our service for unlawful purposes, for which users may be suspended when reported.

Before adding this new abuse-reporting function, it took a considerable amount of time and energy to achieve the same result. Users could be blocked, but in order to notify Twitter employees of harassment a lengthy form had to be filled out. For people in situations like Criado-Perez that were subjected to a sudden torrent of abuse, it simply wasn’t practical to fill out the large volume of forms required, and thus most abusers escaped censure.

At the time of this writing one person, a 21-year-old man, has been arrested for publicly threatening to rape Criado-Perez.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Caroline Criado-Perez: Threatened by Twitter messages

Twitter announced on July 29 that it will now be easier for users to report harassment and abuse from other users. This announcement comes after a shocking high-profile episode in which a British feminist activist was relentlessly tormented with threats of rape and murder.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Caroline-Criado-Perez
Caroline Criado-Perez: Threatened by Twitter messages

Twitter announced on July 29 that it will now be easier for users to report harassment and abuse from other users. This announcement comes after a shocking high-profile episode in which a British feminist activist was relentlessly tormented with threats of rape and murder.

In a blog post entitled “We hear you,” Twitter’s Senior Director of Trust & Safety, Del Harvey, said that the company has introduced a function where users can report an individual tweet on the iPhone app and on the mobile version of the site, and the function will soon be available on desktop and Android versions as well.

This move was prompted by a public outcry over the Twitter-treatment of Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully campaigned to have the image of ground-breaking evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin on the British £10 note replaced with a likeness of Victorian author Jane Austen.

When the Bank of England announced that Jane Austen would be featured on the new note, Criado-Perez began to receive threats of rape and murder on Twitter. This situation came to the attention of Change.org, an advocacy group, which started an online campaign demanding that Twitter “Add a report button to Tweets.” This all happened in rapid succession, and Twitter’s response was prompt.

On July 29, Harvey wrote in a blog post on Twitter’s UK site: “We see an incredible amount of activity passing through our systems – there are more than 400 million Tweets sent every day worldwide. Those Tweets not only appear on our site and in our apps, but are also embedded into the fabric of traditional and digital media.”

The vast majority of these use cases are positive. That said, we are not blind to the reality that there will always be people using Twitter in ways that are abusive and may harm others.

While manually reviewing every Tweet is not possible due to Twitter’s global reach and level of activity, we use both automated and manual systems to evaluate reports of users potentially violating our Twitter Rules. These rules explicitly bar direct, specific threats of violence against others and use of our service for unlawful purposes, for which users may be suspended when reported.

Before adding this new abuse-reporting function, it took a considerable amount of time and energy to achieve the same result. Users could be blocked, but in order to notify Twitter employees of harassment a lengthy form had to be filled out. For people in situations like Criado-Perez that were subjected to a sudden torrent of abuse, it simply wasn’t practical to fill out the large volume of forms required, and thus most abusers escaped censure.

At the time of this writing one person, a 21-year-old man, has been arrested for publicly threatening to rape Criado-Perez.

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