South Shields Man Arrested Over Twitter Abuse

31 July 2013, 06:26

A 25-year-old man's been arrested on suspicion of harassment after Twitter abuse was aimed at a feminist campaigner and an MP.

Caroline Criado Perez and Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy have complained about being sent vicious tweets on the site in the past week.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said:
"Today, 30th July, Northumbria Police arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of harassment.

This arrest will form part of two ongoing MPS investigations relating to allegations made to police by two separate victims, who made reports of malicious communication to police on 25 and 29 July.''

29 year old Ms Criado Perez, has said Twitter needs to "get a grip'' on security, as it emerged bosses were likely to face a grilling from MPs.

She said the social network was ill-equipped to handle episodes of sustained abuse and needed to work more closely with police to deal with internet trolls.

Ms Criado Perez met Twitter directors last night along with Ms Creasy, who received a similar torrent of abusive messages after she offered support to the freelance journalist.

Ms Criado Perez said:
"This will have been a wake-up call for Twitter.

It will hopefully have led them to realise that they are not equipped to deal with this kind of thing properly.

They need to get a grip and figure it out.

We had a positive conversation about making reporting quicker, simpler and more focused on getting results for the victim.

I feel that finally they're taking this issue seriously, though it's a shame it's taken this worldwide outcry for them to act.

We'll be keeping up the pressure in the coming weeks, but the signs of some serious, positive changes are good.'' 

The campaigner, who received assurances that Twitter is working to improve its procedures for reporting menacing behaviour, said the police also needed to "step up''.

Twitter bosses look set to face questions from MPs when the Culture, Media and Sport Committee examines issues surrounding child protection in the Autumn.

Officers have also questioned and bailed a 21-year-old man in connection with the messages sent to Ms Criado Perez.

Twitter said it was in contact with the police over the abusive tirades.

A spokesman said:
"We value the feedback from our users and are testing ways of simplifying the reporting process, including a broad roll out of in-Tweet reporting beyond the current availability on the iPhone app and mobile web.

We have processes in place for working with law enforcement and are currently in communication with the police, as well as the affected parties.''

The social network has announced plans to include a button for reporting abuse within every tweet - something which is already available on its iPhone app.

But critics argue this does not go far enough and only directs users to the existing reporting form which, they claim, is too long and impractical.

A petition calling for Twitter to beef up its reporting procedures had drawn more than 90,000 signatures by this evening.

The uproar has also prompted Tory MP Claire Perry - who has been advising the Prime Minister on measures to tackle the spread of extreme pornography and child abuse online - to reveal the extent of the abuse she too has received on Twitter.

The Devizes MP wrote:
"I am tempted to shut down my Twitter account given the trolling going on incl. to me - but that would be giving in.'' 

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