Twitter is ‘failing women’ by taking too long to remove misogynistic abuse, Yvette Cooper says

Twitter is “failing women” who are victims of online threats and abuse by taking far too long to remove hateful and misogynistic content, Britain’s leading women’s rights charity warns today. The Fawcett Society says sexist, obscene and anti-Semitic abuse directed against high-profile figures including MPs was still on the social media site more than a week after it had been reported to the US-based firm. It comes as prosecutors faced demands for online hate crimes against women to be given the same status as face-to-face abuse in the same way that racist, religious and homophobic online hate crimes have now been recategorised.
The Fawcett Society, set up in the 19th century to campaign for women’s suffrage, will today publish a joint report with the campaign group Reclaim the Internet in which they say Twitter is doing “too little, too slowly” to combat online threats to women. The two groups identified 14 cases of threats and abuse against women including the MPs Luciana Berger, Diane Abbott and the late Jo Cox, as well as the campaigner Gina Miller, and reported them to Twitter earlier this month. Tweets reported by the two groups also included threats of rape as well as images and video of apparently non-consensual sexual acts alongside abusive comments aimed at groups of women including migrants and Muslims. On Monday night five of the 14 accounts remained active with the tweets in question still on the site, while Twitter had taken up to nine days to suspend the other accounts reported to it.
Yvette Cooper MP, founder of Reclaim the Internet, said: “Twitter claims to stop hate speech but they just don’t do it in practice. Vile racist, misogynist and threatening abuse gets reported to them, but they are too slow to act so they just keep giving a platform to hatred and extremism. It’s disgraceful and irresponsible.” The offending tweets included a vile slur on the late MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by a constituent in 2016, and racist and misogynistic abuse directed at the shadow home secretary Diane Abbott. Other tweets included a description of raping migrants as “ethnic cleansing”.
On Monday the Crown Prosecution Service announced that online hate crimes covering racist, religious and homophobic abuse would be treated as seriously as offences committed in person. Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said that misogyny needed to be added to the list, adding: “Women are being routinely and regularly abused online with impunity for the abusers and that has to change.”

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