Campaigner for placing Jane Austen on UK bank note flooded with abusive tweets

The decision of the Bank of England to put a female face on UK's new £10 banknote set off a volley of online verbal abuse directed at a feminist who received 50 rape threats an hour, leading to a backlash against Twitter for the microblogging site's failure to respond.

Caroline Criado-Perez ended up with tonnes of threatening tweets after the announcement last week that her campaign to have Jane Austen's image grace its new note had been successful (See: BoE confirms novelist Jane Austen to grace new £10 notes).

Criado-Perez was threatened with personal attacks  by both male and female Twitter users.

"Everybody jump on the rape train . . . (Ms Criado-Perez) is the conductor", wrote one, according to screen shots on the I Will Not Put Up With This blog.

"Wouldn't mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you are ready to be put in your place," was another. "Rape threats? Don't flatter yourself. Call the cops, we will rape them too".

The context of the affair widened when Criado-Perez, a blogger, said Twitter's response to her complaint had been unacceptable, as she was told to fill out a form describing the offensive behaviour.

She told ABC Radio yesterday, that for a person receiving around 50 rape threats an hour, it was not practical to expect her to fill in a form for every single threatening tweet. She said Twitter was on the side of the abusers, not the victims, and they really, really needed to get on the side of the victims.

Meanwhile, the general manager for Twitter in the UK has promised the simplification of the process for reporting abusive tweets after the incident.

"We're testing ways to simplify reporting, e.g. within a Tweet by using the 'Report Tweet' button in our iPhone app and on mobile Web," Twitter's Tony Wang tweeted this weekend.

Wang's comment came not before A Change.org petition asked Twitter to revamp its reporting system, which was "below required standards," the petition said.

On Saturday, Criado-Perez pinged Twitter's head of safety to saying she was reaching the end of her third day of rape threats. She wondered what  Twitter was doing about it, to Which Wang responded, saying, it appeared that many of the accounts from which the threats against Criado-Perez were made had been suspended. "We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules," Wang tweeted.

According to commentators, the process for reporting abusive tweets could still be improved.