Twitter's Tony Wang issues apology to abuse victims


Stella Creasy: ''An apology [from Twitter] is not the end of the matter''

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The boss of Twitter UK has said sorry to women who have experienced abuse on the social networking site.

Tony Wang said the threats were "simply not acceptable" and pledged to do more to tackle abusive behaviour.

The apology came as Twitter updated its rules and confirmed it would introduce an in-tweet "report abuse" button on all platforms, including desktops.

Police are investigating eight allegations of abuse including bomb and rape threats made against women.

Two people have been arrested in relation to rape threats against Labour MP Stella Creasy and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who received the threats after a campaign to have Jane Austen on the new £10 note.

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.

The revelations sparked a backlash online, with a petition calling for Twitter to add a "report abuse" button to tweets attracting more than 125,000 signatures so far.

'Protect users'

In a series of tweets, Twitter UK general manager Mr Wang said: "I personally apologize to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through.

"The abuse they've received is simply not acceptable. It's not acceptable in the real world, and it's not acceptable on Twitter.

Tony Wang Tony Wang said Twitter would do more to tackle abusive behaviour

"There is more we can and will be doing to protect our users against abuse. That is our commitment."

Minister for Women and Equalities Jo Swinson said unchecked Twitter abuse had been a problem for a long time and she was "delighted" the company was apologising and taking action.

Ms Mayer, Europe editor of Time magazine, said she had yet to receive a personal apology from Twitter, despite contacting the website on Wednesday evening.

"I've been deeply amused by the phrase I've received a personal apology from Twitter," she said.

"If he [Mr Wang] would like to make an apology to me, he can direct message me if he doesn't want to do it publicly."

She added: "We're not being targeted because we're activists, we're being targeted because we're female."

'Panic button'

Ms Creasy said she had received a "very welcome" apology in an email from Mr Wang - but it had taken a week.

She said stalking was taking a new form online and called for a mechanism similar to a panic button system to be put in place.

Screen-grab of Grace Dent's Twitter page, showing a retweet of the threat Journalist and broadcaster Grace Dent received a bomb threat on Twitter

"We need to get round the table with the police and experts to identify the best way we can keep people safe online," she said.

In an earlier message posted on the Twitter UK blog, the company's senior director for trust and safety, Del Harvey, and Mr Wang, said the company had clarified its anti-harassment policy in light of feedback from customers.

They said: "It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter."

Twitter has clarified its guidance on abuse and spam - reiterating that users "may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment".

The "report abuse" button already available on the iOS Twitter app and mobile site will also be rolled out to the main website and Android app from September, Twitter said.

The bosses said in the blog that additional staff were being added to the teams that handle reports of abuse and the company was working with the UK Safer Internet Centre, which promotes the safe and responsible use of technology.

"We are committed to making Twitter a safe place for our users," they said, adding: "We're here, and we're listening to you."

'Sustained attack'

Ms Criado-Perez, 29, welcomed Twitter's response but said the process for reporting abuse should be further simplified to take the onus off the victim.

She said: "Twitter's 'report abuse' button on the iPhone application goes through to the old reporting form. What we're looking for is an overhaul of the system which sits behind the button.

"Right now, all the emphasis is on the victim, often under intense pressure, to report rather than for Twitter to track down the perpetrator and stop them."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    "That you think threatening to rape or murder a woman is merely upsetting our sensibilities encapsulates the problem beautifully"

    There's the problem right there!
    a) THREATS are very nasty and are illegal
    b) ABUSE can be anything from disagreeing to hurting someone's ego

    They are NOT the same thing! That button was sought after the former, but will be used for the latter

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    It you give menal diarrhoea a public forum don't be surprised when things get smelly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    @56 Like posting here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    7. Mister Point
    The simple way to feel safe on twitter? Don't use it.

    Same goes for all social networking sites. And no, I don't use Facebook, twitter, or anything like that.


    Yes you do! How else could I have read your message?

    This site is no different from any other social media. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    What amuses me is that the first people to shout and scream about nasty people saying bad things are the same ones who are quick to abuse others.
    You know, the ones who scream "racist", "sexist", "homophobe", "misogynsit", "xenophobe" if you happen to have an opinion that doesn't agree with their la-la land ideas.
    Now watch someone complain this into moderated non-existence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I avoid Twitter, as it seems to be like modern day bear baiting.

    Also, I hate soundbites (....including this one :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Twiiter is for people with more time than sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    52 is unfortunately correct. Expect Richard Dawkins to be banned by upsetting fundamentalist Christians and Muslims.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    There is an extremely simple solution to this - no anonymous screen-names. You have to post on Twitter under your real name. That would lose the abuse overnight, and probably most of the people on here, too. Including me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    42. Muppet Master "... wouldn't have to put up with nasty men "abusing" their sensibilities ...'

    That you think threatening to rape or murder a woman is merely upsetting our sensibilities encapsulates the problem beautifully.
    Well done.
    A large number of men sit down, rather than stand up. If you knew anything about people of either sex, you would have known that, no?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Unfortunately, experience has shown that "report abuse" will be greatly abused by those who wish to censor others views. To use internet language, it will de-facto become a "report butt-hurt" button.

    People need to be aware that the laws of the land apply to internet communication. Threats of violence etc are illegal. Simples!

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Buddha didn't bat an eyelid as the man ranted and rage while hurling abuse at him. He finally stopped and asked Buddha why he had not responded to the insults. Buddha replied, "If I offer you an apple and you don't take it, whose is the apple?".
    Some people give offense, some people take offense. It's really up to you, if you want to take offense, don't blame the giver, that's offensive ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Here we go again. Have you ever gone clubbing in Newport? Where violence even glassing is common. Let's see, a skinhead takes exception to your face or hairstyle and calls you a homosexual. And maybe he hits you. As has happened to me. What are you going to DO about this?

    The bouncers aren't interested, the police aren't interested It'll be YOU that's thrown out of the club and barred.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    42. don't be silly...wish we did not have to have Police but unfortunately, it is a social tool or meant to be...abuse and sick vile threats are unwanted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    If you go online seeking attention over your political and religious beliefs no doubt you will attract all kinds of unwanted attention.

    gender or sexual orientation is unacceptable on or off line.
    It is I don't disagree there. It happens to other people though. Cyber bullies aren't just exclusive to feminists or gender etc.. You can have a view without publishing to the world who you are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    An abuse button for genuine abuse is a great thing, but I worry this will be used to suppress people's right to free speech.

    If anyone says anything mildly political then anyone with an opposing view could abuse this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Just close down Twitter altogether and Facebook and all that other rubbish!

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    If you don't want people to be stupid, hateful & bigoted to you...
    Don't be stupid, hateful & bigoted in the first place.

    Most people learn that in the school yard.


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