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 183.

    "Freedom of speech is a joke when you can be arrested for racist and sexist things said on twitter. "
    *Perceived* to be racist or sexist by someone.
    Calling a female tennis player ugly is sexist (I thought it was just personally insulting) but calling Wayne Rooney "Spud faced" isn't. In fact it's a laugh, ho, ho...
    All the 'isms are where you see them, some see them everywhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Im sick of these sycophantic fake BBC liberals Types, who mainly work for think tanks or politicial parties and are heavliy involved in social engineerig and planned destuction of the rights of freedoms of this country telling me that my rights should be revoked so there feeling cant be hurt SICK OF IT and look at the delphi technique used with the editors picks WE KNOW THE GAME

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Lets be clear:threatening people with death or serious harm are criminal offences. That said this about censorship and the strange people who want to return us to the "utopia" of the 1950's. Too late, the bus has left the station.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    @51. A Wheel Busted wrote: I despair at the hatred they have for men,it must be sad to live in their myopic world


    If by that you mean a hatred of men that want to rape and kill women, well, then it is a hatred well founded and fully supported by this man at least.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    muslim kills soldier and muslims get attacked

    feminist media constantly attacks men and women get abuse

    seems like people have had enough of extremests minorities trying to rule the country with their bigot ideas

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    There's a large graduation between the downright illegal (threats of rape & violence) and pointing out forcefully the idiotic views of some users. I suspect 99% of the time the report button will because of some perceived offence - I miss the early days of Usenet without all this moderations and hurt feelings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    "The boss of Twitter UK has said sorry to women who have experienced abuse on the social networking site."
    -What about men who have also received abuse?

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    All those signing up to prove they have a contract phone.

    At least Twitter could contact them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    130 - That's not feminism, that's equalism. Feminists disguise their views as "equality", when they really have a female supremacist agenda.

    Most of us are equalists, we want the best person for the role, regardless of race or gender etc. Feminists are hypocrites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    So what do you expect on Twitter? Serious informed comment? The clue's in the name.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    There was a hope held by idealistic fools that by making the internet free and open to the world that it would bring down barriers and become an electronic utopia.

    Instead it is stuffed with Porn, Racism, Bigotry, child abuse, terrorism, extremism, violence, bullying ...

    And all these things are increasing sharply.

    Pandora and Box come to mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    Freedom of speech is a joke when you can be arrested for racist and sexist things said on twitter. Social media isn't even public in the conventional sense since you can restrict your audience. I hope the laws regulating offensive speech will soon be revised to bring them into the 21st century.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Twitter boss needn't have apologised and should not have felt that he should have to.

    Social accounts when you have an extrovert views are open to and will attract abuse (because some people may not agree) with your views.

    I have never touched Facebook as my views aren't exactly PC and I'm sure would offend some softy somewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    "you can always delete your Twitter account and keep your opinions to yourself. A radical idea I know"
    Wilbur there's nothing radical about telling women to shut up so that men can continue to abuse them in comfort. It's what's happened throughout history but now women are saying no. There's a very thick line between saying what you think and being threatened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    If you don't want to look silly, don't post nonsense like the above.
    The poster made the point about actively opting to engage. I'm not endorsing the clowns who post abuse but I do think perspective is required - a cyber threat whilst unsettling is not the same as one made in physical proximity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    If I owned twitter I would have told them to TAKE A HIKE!

    Put a big disclaimer on the site or app and tell them to SLIGN THEIR HOOK!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Talk is cheap. It takes any decent programmer a day to create a "report abuse" link, and yet despite an ongoing campaign to have one there is STILL no easy way to report a person for being abusive. People might not understand how easy this is to do, but I can assure you it could be done in ten minutes. This is money problem, and he doesn't want to spend any profits on the staff needed to moderate

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    That age old "Freedom of Speech" rears it's ugly head again.

    When are people going to learn that it's a privilege and not a God given right.
    Practice it by all means, but use common sense and draw your own lines.
    For those that are too egotistical and senseless to do that we have the law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Tony Wang should be fired for incompetence. If he's feeding the media quotes in which he distinguishes between Twitter and "the real world", he certainly has no place as an executive at Twitter. And I'd also like to know which particular permutation of 140 characters he considers "dangerous?" This man's intervention is only further damaging Twitter. He must be stopped.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    "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"
    Err, yes. Because incitement to civil disorder *right now* IRL is more serious than intangible, ephemeral, threats.


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