Twitter plans to include a button for reporting abuse within every tweet, the site annouced, amid a growing furore over online threats to rape and kill a feminist campaigner.
Caroline Criado Perez faced a tirade on the micro-blogging site after she succeeded in her crusade to have author Jane Austen’s picture placed on a new banknote.
Police were yesterday questioning a man in connection with the torrent of abuse as Twitter faced repeated calls to ramp up its security policies.
The 21-year-old was arrested on Sunday in Manchester on suspicion of harassment following a complaint made on Thursday.
Critics called for Twitter to take faster and stronger action against online bullies, or “trolls”, in the wake of the abuse.
A campaign in support of Ms Criado Perez – which urged the site to facilitate the swift reporting of threatening behaviour – had already received more than 12,500 signatures yesterday afternoon.
The online attacks have also led to calls for a boycott of the free social media platform on 4 August.
Twitter yesterday said it had introduced a button for reporting abuse on its latest iPhone app and is now looking to expand this function.
A spokesman said: “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. We don’t comment on individual accounts. However, we have rules which people agree to abide by when they sign up to Twitter.
“We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be breach our rules.”
Freelance journalist Ms Criado Perez said: “It’s sadly not unusual to get this kind of abuse but I’ve never seen it get as intense or aggressive as this. It’s infuriating that the price you pay for standing up for women is 24 hours of rape threats.
“We are showing that by standing together we can make a real difference. We made the Bank of England change its mind – we can do the same with Twitter.”
A petition organised by Ms Criado Perez, after the Bank of England decided to replace Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill on new £5 notes, resulted in a petition signed by more than 35,500 people. The move would have meant there were no women apart from the Queen on sterling banknotes.
Her campaign was a success, with an announcement by the Bank last week that Jane Austen will feature on the new £10 being introduced in 2017.
Tony Wang, the general manager of Twitter UK, said that the company took online abuse seriously. He tweeted: “We’re testing ways to simplify reporting, eg within a tweet by using the ‘Report Tweet’ button in our iPhone app and on mobile web.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has written to Mr Wang.,saying: “Despite the scale and seriousness of these threats, the official response from Twitter continues to be extremely weak – simply directing Caroline away from Twitter towards the police and, belatedly, directing users to abuse reporting forms on Twitter.
“Of course it is right to report such abuse to the police, and it is very important that they investigate and pursue this case.
“But social media platforms also have a responsibility for the platform they give users. And in particular they have a responsibility not to tolerate this kind of abuse, rape threats and potentially criminal behaviour.”
Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy became the latest MP to hit out at Twitter’s security policies after she drew a similar barrage of threats for supporting Ms Criado Perez.