After several prominent UK women reported receiving graphic rape and death threats on Twitter, Parliament is haling some of Twitter's most senior executives before a committee to explain what they're doing about it.
The country's "Culture, Media and Sport" parliamentary committee will ask representatives of the site to explain how it intends to protect users from harassment or abusive behavior, its chairman said Tuesday.One of them was Labour MP Stella Creasy, who was threatened with rape several times on Monday. She retweeted some of them--see for yourself @stellacreasy. Police have arrested at least two of the bottom-feeders, and are actively investigating the threats against Creasy.
The action comes after campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez received a barrage of threats to rape and kill her following a campaign to have a woman's picture printed on a new banknote. Her success led to the announcement last week that Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen will grace England’s ten pound notes starting in 2017.
Women who spoke out on Twitter in support of Criado-Perez were subjected to similar abuse.
The furor has drawn attention to how difficult it is to report abusive tweets. Currently, users have to search for details on how to report someone. A petition calling for Twitter to add one-click abuse reporting to all tweets has over 104,000 signatures as of now (9:50 am Eastern). Twitter's iPhone app already has that feature, and Twitter UK trust and safety director Del Harvey wrote in a blog post that similar features are on the way for the Android and PC versions as well. However, according to The Guardian, it still needs work.
It also doesn't go far enough for Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary. In a burning letter to Twitter's UK brass, Cooper demanded that Twitter launch "a full review of its policies on abusive behavior, threats and crimes" and take steps to make it easier for users to report such ugliness.
No word on when the hearing is to take place--though chances are it's already underway, since it's early afternoon in the UK.