After multiple threats were made against a feminist campaigner via Twitter, tens of thousands signed a petition calling for the social network to make it easier to report abusive tweets. According to Twitter, a feature is already in the works.
"The ability to report individual Tweets for abuse is currently available on Twitter for iPhone, and we plan to bring this functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web," a Twitter spokesperson told NBC News. "[W]e have rules which people agree to abide by when they sign up to Twitter," he added after declining to comment on specific situations. "We will suspend accounts that once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules. We encourage users to report an account for violation of the Twitter rules by using one of our report forms."
The petition was inspired by Caroline Criado-Perez, who helped lobby the Bank of England to make novelist Jane Austen the new face of the country's ten-pound bill. After the campaign succeeded, she saw a great number of threatening tweets addressed to her and on Sunday, British police arrested a man in connection to some of these online threats. In the meantime, over 60,000 people signed the petition on Change.org, demanding that Twitter add a "report abuse" button to individual tweets (which the social network already added to the Twitter for iPhone app earlier this month).
While the new button does indeed make reporting abusive tweets a quick and simple process, it does also make it easier for malicious users to falsely report someone in an attempt to have his or her account suspended. We'll have to wait and see how Twitter prevents abuse of the feature intended to curb abuse.
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First published July 29 2013, 11:39 AM