Twitter abuse and bomb threat claims probed by police

Screen-grab of Grace Dent's Twitter page, showing a retweet of the threat The bombs would explode at 22:47 BST "destroying everything", the tweets said

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The Metropolitan Police have said they are investigating allegations by eight people of "harassment, malicious communication or bomb threats" suffered on social networking site Twitter.

The Met said its central e-crime unit would investigate the claims, including three that were made outside London.

On Wednesday, four female journalists, a student and a social media manager said they had received bomb threats.

A Labour MP and a feminist campaigner were separately threatened with rape.

Police have made two arrests in connection with the rape threats.

In a statement, the Met said a centralised investigation of all eight allegations, even though outside its "operational remit", would "make the most effective use of resources, avoid duplication by separate investigation teams and use the expertise and national reach of the [e-crime unit]".

The Guardian's Hadley Freeman, the Independent's Grace Dent and Time magazine's Catherine Mayer all said they had received identical bomb threats on Wednesday.

'Puny'

Anonymous tweets warned that bombs would explode outside their homes.

The Telegraph's Emma Barnett revealed the following day that she too had received the same threat, and had responded by shutting down her computer and "rushing out of the office to meet an old contact down the pub".

The anonymous Twitter accounts were suspended and the threatening tweets deleted shortly after they were reported, but not before screen-grabs of the threats had been widely circulated online.

Labour MP Stella Creasy and campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully fought for a woman's face to appear on £10 bank-notes, were threatened on Twitter with rape in separate incidents last weekend.

Two men arrested on suspicion of harassment in connection with the allegations have been released on bail by police.

A 25-year-old was held by Northumbria Police on 30 July in connection with both allegations, while a 21-year-old was arrested in Manchester on 28 July over the threat against Ms Criado-Perez.

Twitter has said it plans to make reporting abuse easier, by bringing a "report abuse" function already available on the iPhone app version of the micro-blogging site to other phones and platforms.

Ms Mayer said at the time of the threat she had been tempted to ignore and delete the "not very credible-sounding" tweet.

"Dick Dastardly might have scripted the threat," she wrote later.

"It was a cartoonish warning and in notifying the police, I set the weighty analogue wheels of justice in motion in pursuit of a puny digital miscreant."

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