A coalition of hacktivists, open-internet advocates and misogynists have been entrenched in a battle with everyone else on Twitter over the newly reformed “report abuse” button on both the app and the website. As a result of the recent insurgence of violent threats and abuse on Twitter, activists have declared Sunday August 4 a day of silence.
Here is what you need to know about this increasingly vicious online conflict:
1. Twitter Will Add ‘Report Abuse’ Button to Website
Today Twitter UK announced that it will be introducing an “in-Tweet report button” in the latest version of the Twitter App and on the Website. This is being introduced so that users who feel as if they are being abused on Twitter have immediate recourse rather than the previous method of reporting which required a user to file a report.
The new feature was introduced after a week of particularity aggressive threats and abuse were heaped on outspoken women on Twitter. The behavior prompted complaints that the website needed to seriously reform its blocking and abuse reporting system.
@TonyW I once reported a tweet. After 6 weeks, someone got back to me, saying post had been deleted. My response met with a ‘case closed’
— Mishal Husain (@MishalHusainBBC) August 3, 2013
2. This Move Has Been Called Censorship
Censorship is rape. Feminists are rapists.
— Anonymous Operations (@Anon_Central) August 2, 2013
Infamous hacktivist group Anonymous has been leading the charge against the “report abuse” reforms asserting that it would lead to Twitter censorship.
In their typical “trolling” fashion, the group has been using one of their most-followed Twitter accounts to berate feminists with photographs of overweight women and by expressing remorse that there is no, “rape button for feminazis.”
3. Bomb Threats Were Tweeted at Female Journalists
Several female journalists in the United Kingdom received the tweet displayed above on the evening of July 31. Time magazine’s Europe editor Catherine Mayer, Guardian columnist Hadley Freemam and Grace Dent from the Independent, all received the same bomb scare tweet.
The bomb-threat tweets also came after massive amounts of rape and murder threats were heaped upon activist Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully campaigned to include Jane Austen on an English bank note.
4. Twitter UK Apologized
I personally apologize to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through.
— Tony Wang (@TonyW) August 3, 2013
Tony Wang, the General Manager of Twitter UK, personally apologized to the women who have been affected by this months insurgence of abusive behavior.
Wang’s tweet came in conjunction with a statement made on Twitter UK’s blog commenting on the recent conflict and revealing the plan to roll out the new report abuse feature. They said:
Over the past week, we’ve been listening to your feedback on how we can improve our service. You told us that we need to make our rules clearer, simplify our abuse reporting process, and promote the responsible use of Twitter… We are committed to making Twitter a safe place for our users. We are adding additional staff to the teams that handle abuse reports and are exploring new ways of using technology to improve everyone’s experience on Twitter. We’re here, and we’re listening to you.
5. August 4 Will Be #Twittersilence
In reaction to the bomb, murder, and rape threats that have been bouncing around Twitter the last few weeks, Sunday August 4 has been declared a day of Twitter silence in solidarity with victims of internet abuse.
Denoted by the hashtag #twittersilence, people have been discussing and preparing for the day of silence. In a blog post, Guardian online news editor Jonathan Haynes wrote, “Why I’m off Twitter on Sunday 4 August.” He said:
I’ve seen at close quarters the abuse some people receive on a daily basis, particularly women, and think the idea of a day where the people who are so frequently abused don’t tweet – and others of us who get much less abuse, often just because we’re not women, join them – is fantastic.
Hopefully some of those people who don’t take abuse seriously or think it’s to be expected online and people should just get over it will see how boring Twitter is without the rest of us and rethink their views.