Twitters toxic environment is failing women, says Amnesty International

#ToxicTwitter Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International has launched a campaign calling out Twitter for its failures in preventing online violence and abuse against women on its platform – 12 years to the day after the first ever tweet on the microblogging site.

To support the campaign, Amnesty interviewed more than 80 female politicians, journalists, and regular users across the UK and US, as well as surveying 1,110 British women, as part of its #ToxicTwitter report.

In the survey, Amnesty found that just nine per cent of British women believe Twitter is doing enough to stop violence and abuse against them on the platform, while 78 per cent who expressed an opinion don’t think Twitter is the place to share their opinion without receiving violence or abuse.

On top of these results, the women interviewed for the report outline the nature of violence and abuse they suffer on twitter, including death threats and rape threats, as well as racist, transphobic, and homophobic abuse.

“It’s clear that Twitter has become a toxic place for women,” said Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK. “For far too long Twitter has been a space where women can too easily be confronted with death or rape threats, and where their genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations are under attack. 

“Recently we’ve seen a great wave of solidarity and activism from women around the world, and social media platforms have an important role in movements like #MeToo. But women must be able to speak out without fear of violence and abuse. The trolls are currently winning, because despite repeated promises, Twitter is failing to do enough to stop them.

“Twitter must take concrete steps to address and prevent violence and abuse against women on its platform, otherwise its claim to be on women’s side is meaningless.”

The human rights organisation’s findings in the report has led the it to conclude that ‘Twitter fails to let users know how it interprets and enforces its policies or how it trains content moderators’, and ‘Twitter’s response to abuse is inconsistently enforced’.

On Amnesty’s findings and claims, Twitter says it disagrees, telling the organisation that it “cannot delete hatred and prejudice from society” and that it has made several improvements to increase safety. The microblogging site has also refused to share data on how it addresses reports of abuse because the data “is not informative [as] reporting tools are often used inappropriately”.