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 163.

    Why is this guy apologising to people who are thick?

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Facebook has the same problem, with bogus profiles and trolls. These things happen, especially within the Political Sphere. The woman was broadcasting her thoughts to the outside world but not everyone out there is a nice person or will agree with you. How many 'followers' did she have? Did she think that all of them would be feminist sycophants-that that would be OK in itself?

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    If you are not a woman, who has recently been abused on twitter, twitters UK Managing Director officially condones you being abused, or unworthy of an apology.

    Q. How do you remain anonymous on Twitter. I would imagine it is impossible. even Ms Dent has a picture of herself. .

  • Comment number 160.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Most of the people in this Forum are so naive to social engineering it's embarrassing .Feminism was created to get you women into the work place so you could be earning the state TAX and look at the family now Disfunctional, and society is falling apart AM I LYING? Not because they wanted to give you "equal rights". Soon being critical of the government will be a hate crime MARK MY WORDS

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    147. Feedback

    I bet you can't wit until the govenment rolls out their Internet Firewall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    You have to walk the line to stop threats to person but verbal abuse ... well thats tough , i think its difficult to decide what is unacceptable . Like a previous poster here some things that are said by some of the accusers could be construed as abuse towards men .... I think as soon as you become outspoken in your opinions and express them on twitter in derogatory way , what do you expect .

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    @120 Swerdna "If total internet freedom has to be slightly curtailed to hit the nasties, then so be it."

    Hook, line and sinker.
    I know you mean well but you are simply spewing the output from programming you have received through the establishment media.
    Give up freedom or the bogey man will get you!

    You can be guilty by proxy if you like but I won't be joining you in your self imposed cell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Kind of mixes up the proverbs a bit The pen is mightier than the sword.
    He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. He(or she) who pens the Twitter/Facebook dies by them.
    I agree with those who say if you don't like the consequence don't do it & certainly don't blame the hosts. What did they do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Twitter has just proved with the politicians screaming you can get an apology but there again he is quite happy for men to be insulted or offended by statements put on his site, by the fact he has not apologised to offended men he appears to be a sexist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    82 and 87 have hit the nail on the head. If people don't like it they should just shut their accounts and stop filing the world with self centred nonsense the rest of us don't care about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    No apology for men who receive abuse, then? Nothing more than pandering to the same feminists who themselves spout an endless stream of verbal diarrhoea against men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Originally the internet was for intelligent cultured people. Now it's been taken over by thicko squat goblins...and in this I include politicians who simply fail to understand that the World Wide Web is the biggest unregulated entity in the world.

    If you take to Twitter to preach to the masses you have to accept that these days its full of morons...the reason you're there is to canvas their vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    144.pittstop -" ....If the person you are talking to has no way to know who you are or where you live, you feel braver in escalating a disagreement to out and out abuse (if you are that way inclined) something you wouldn't do in the "real" world. This could be avoided if the requirement to prove who you were was mandatory to join these sites"

    But how do you prove who you are?

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    If memory serves some twit(ter) said he would be up to no good at the riots two years ago and was arrested on his way. Seems that sexual and physical threats and bombings to individuals aren't quite as important as say, protecting the local newsagent from wanton theft.

    Now we all know the outcomes tweet what you will and take the consequences.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    "Too much emphasis is place on user "blocking" other users, rather than the site moderating the comments."

    How would they go about doing that? Have you any idea how twitter actually works or the volume of 'tweets' that pass through their servers each day? The latest data I could find was a year ago when they handled over 400 million messages each day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Perhaps Twitter should make it more difficult for people to sign up, such as requiring proof of bank details (in the same way that PayPal signups work). If proof of identity was implemented in this way, the account user wouldn't be able to post anonymous messages using throwaway PAYG mobile numbers. With PayPal, you need to verify you are who you say you are. Why not Twitter?

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    In a way this abuse is a good thing. It brings people who probably bully/abuse or commit even more serious crimes offline as well into the open. Prosecute them. It might help preventing the kind of crime Daniel Pelka was subjected to. It's disgusting how people abuse freedom of speech to indulge in their perverted ideologies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    The problem with anonimity (removing thereof) is that few of us are. I get friends requests for my Facebook page, but I don't have one. I get invites to join LinkedIn groups - I don't have an account.
    Presumably someone has gleaned my name and an email from the net and used it, it's not rocket science..

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    The biggest failing of the net has always been it's anonymity. If the person you are talking to has no way to know who you are or where you live, you feel braver in escalating a disagreement to out and out abuse (if you are that way inclined) something you wouldn't do in the "real" world. This could be avoided if the requirement to prove who you were was mandatory to join these sites.


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