A 21-year-old man has been arrested in the UK in connection with rape and death threats sent to Caroline Criado-Perez on Twitter after she launched a campaign to get an image of a famous female on British banknotes. Caroline, a journalist and feminist, was succesful in her campaign but although it proved successful Caroline paid a high price for her "activism".
Pathetic Twitter trolls targeted her and she received a high-level of abuse. At one point she reportedly received 50 rape threats in one hour. Sadly social media abuse is rampant right now. A blogger at TEK recently experienced a great deal of abuse and many threats online, which only stopped after police intervention.
Supporters on Twitter launched a campaign and petition in support of Caroline. At time of writing the petition has 12,500 signatures.The Mail Online reports: "Writer Caitlin Moran tweeted: 'For those who say, "why complain - just block?' on a big troll day, it can be 50 violent/rape messages an hour. Exhausting and upsetting.' "
We all jibe each other from time to time and it is easy to go that step too far when you or the recipient are faceless. However in recent months the abuse has become personal. It leaves one wondering a couple of things. Firstly is this part of a cunning ploy by governments to allow us to give up Internet freedom and settle for strict censorship and online monitoring by the authorities? If it is then foolish minded individuals who also abuse users are playing into government and security officials hands.
If not are these people idiots, thugs or both and what can be done to stop them?
Caroline Criado-Perez decided to call Twitter out when she was abused. A day of action is planned and MSN News reports: "Speaking to The Independent, Criado-Perez is quoted as saying: "Trolls don't run the internet... neither do abusive men."The petition also recommends users to boycott Twitter for a 24 hour period on 4 August."
Most women have come across the abusive men she mentions online. Some of these guys have no idea that is how they are perceived, but others wantonly bully, chide, threaten, belittle and infuriate.
Some also pose a real threat. Recent court cases involving "joke" and insensitive tweets in the UK show that we are snooped at online. They also show that police can act when it suits. That sometimes though fails to happen.
A "report abuse" button on Twitter could be a good idea as long as it is followed through. Tony Wang, head of Twitter UK tweeted the site's stance on abusive tweets and twitterers (see image).
Internet trolls however tend to have many email and twitter accounts.
If you write online or are part of any website's community you may have already experienced the nasty side of the internet. Site forums, on sites such as Hubpages, are not for the feint -hearted. Members go for the jugular first and think later. They are mild though compared to extreme websites.
In a few cases misinterpretation can be part of the problem due to language differences or reading text rather than hearing the spoken word.
When all is said and done though some sick souls appear to go online just to make mischief or abuse and frighten others. Facebook has worked to incorporate a reporting tool and Twitter needs to follow suit and fast. As we access the Internet by many methods these days, and from many places, it will have to find a global, multi-gadget solution.
The British banknotes
The banknote campaign was hardly something controversial but then even if it was such abuse is unacceptable.
In the past Britain had banknotes with images of Florence Nightingale but it has to said that famous British women do not feature highly on banknotes. Of course they do in one way in that each have an image of our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Having regined for 60 years that means we have had one woman on our banknotes and coinage for a considerable length of time.
Many Brits however felt it was time to acknowledge at least one of our famous women and a campaign and petition was launched, for that end. Canadian Mark Carney, the new Governor of the Bank of England, made one of his first tasks announcing the new £10 banknote would feature an image of author Jane Austen. In my opinion there were probably less affluent women from British history but it is a start. Local woman and aviator, the late Amy Johnson, would have been perfect. Some had mentioned the late PM Maggie Thatcher but thankfully good sense prevailed as even in death the "iron lady" remains a contentious character.