Responding to a Change.org petition and a general outcry from users in the wake of a Twitter abuse scandal, the social networking platform has promised the rollout of “report abuse” buttons for individual tweets.
After campaigning for the Bank of England to print currency with female cultural icons, British feminist Caroline Criado-Perez was inundated with a flood of offensive and threatening posts from angry male users. The attacks followed an announcement that author Jane Austen would appear on an upcoming 10-pound note.
Criado-Perez claimed that she was receiving 50 abusive tweets an hour – including threats of rape and death. She said that Twitter was slow to assist her in stopping the offensive, and potentially criminal, tweets.
“Twitter does provide a way to report abuse, but it’s not obvious on the site. The option is, however, buried on its support page,” said VentureBeat.
The Change.org petition, asking for Twitter to add a “report abuse” button to individual tweets, has been signed by more than 66,000 people.
“Abuse on Twitter is common; sadly too common. And it frequently goes ignored. We need Twitter to recognize that its current reporting system is below required standards. It currently requires users to search for details on how to report someone for abuse; a feature that should be available on each user's page,” reads the petition.
It continues: “It is time Twitter took a zero tolerance policy on abuse, and learns to tell the difference between abuse and defense. Women standing up to abuse should not fear having their accounts cancelled because Twitter fail to see the issue at hand.”
Yesterday, Twitter’s UK blog posted a response. The company said that the vast majority of its users’ 400 million tweets a day are positive, but that Twitter does recognize 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,” the response stated.
It also said that Twitter’s mobile website, as well as the iPhone app, currently allows users to file reports against individual tweets. The same feature will be coming to Android and desktop users soon, although a specific date was not mentioned.