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55,000 Sign Twitter Abuse Petition After Jane Austen Campaigner Threats 421

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-nice dept.
AlistairCharlton writes "A petition campaigning for Twitter to improve its measures against online abuse has received more than 55,000 signatures in two days. The petition was set up in support of feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who faced a torrent of abusive tweets, including threats to rape and kill her, after successfully campaigning for a woman's picture to appear on a banknote; Jane Austen will appear on £10 notes from 2017."
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55,000 Sign Twitter Abuse Petition After Jane Austen Campaigner Threats

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  • Zimmerman? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:26PM (#44413361)

    As long as it apples to everyone.
    http://twitchy.com/2013/07/13/twitter-lynch-mob-threatens-to-kill-george-zimmerman/

    • by Sique (173459)
      Caroline Criado-Perez didn't kill anyone.
      • by Xenx (2211586)
        That shouldn't make it any better. I realize that due to human nature, it does. But, it shouldn't.
      • How about Sarah Palin then? Or is that "free speech" that need protecting ?

        • by bfandreas (603438)
          What do you refer to? Her speeches or the animosity towards her? I assume the latter though hateful as she is she never to my knowledge threatened to have anybody killed unless he was of the beard/brown persuasion. Threatening to kill her during her election campaign might not only have been crimminally discourteous but also stupidly suicidal. IIRC the Secret Service is also looking after campaigning would-be Vice Presidents.
          Snarkyness is ok. Murder-death-kill-threats are never.

          Why is this discussion eve
        • "I disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire. Though maybe if he had met someone as stupid as Palin . . .
        • by Jawnn (445279)
          No one deserves to die, or to be made to fear that they might die, just because they are stupid. Even if they are as stupid as Sarah Palin.
      • Re:Zimmerman? (Score:4, Informative)

        by bfandreas (603438) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:47PM (#44414477)
        Threatening to kill somebody is not OK. While Criado-Perez makes it much easier to be sympathetic to her the same courtesies apply to Zimmerman. Even with gnashed teeth. While you have to keep in mind that the Martin case and all sordid little details around it has heated the discussion up quite a bit nobody has the right to kill anybody with premeditation. Actually that lynch-mob of Twatters is a bit ironic when you come to think of it.
        The issue with the Criado-Perez mob is a bit different. You can't argue that you were nasty in the heat of the moment because it is very hard to show that you were that passionate about Austen making in on a 20 quid note. And it is quite, quite easy to show that their threats were made out of sheer spite and malice. This is not as easy to show in the Zimmerman mob.

        After a couple of beers AND a lot of teary "documentaries" I might have joined the Zimmerman mob myself. I think that highly unlikely due to my self-restraint but definitely not impossible. But no matter how shit-faced drunk I were I would NEVER resort to threaten a woman no matter who or why with rape and murder. The line which I don't cross is quite a bit away from that.


        So while both cases are similar and both cases are wrong, the culpability is a bit different. Which is why we need to remember to put "mens rea" back into our laws(even the stupid knee-jerk ones) because the spirit in which the offense was done in should reflect the punitive action.(See that kid who has been in jail for 6 months over threatening a killing spree "lol jk" before he even got his day in court)
        Also a little bit of critical thinking would help to find where the different nuances in those cases. One-liners only win discussions in Hollywood. Which makes Twitter so especially pointless.
    • by bfandreas (603438)

      It applies to everyone. It also applies in this case.

      In all fairness the discussion if this is against Twitter's TOS or not is a moot point. Threatening somebody verbally or via Twitter with death and bodily harm is an offense in most jurisdictions and should be prosecuted as such. The problem is that jurisdictions have lost all sense of proportion and forgotten about "mens rea". Although the latter is also a concept lost on our little-esteemed lawmakers.

      Is it ok to sentence a particularily bad troll to

    • Re:Zimmerman? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:03PM (#44414709) Homepage Journal

      Haters gotta hate. Might as well let them rant on the Tweeters so we at least know who the haters are, than trying to hide them. If you are going to start deleting all they misogynist comments, how about deleting all the misandrist ones, too, including the ones from haters like Joy Behar and Catherine MacKinnon?

      Interestingly, my spell checker knows all about misogyny and its variations, but doesn't acknowledge the existance of misandry at all.

  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:27PM (#44413369)

    There's still cavemen in 2013?

    I think the current Slashdot quote is appropriate:
    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein

    • I think the current Slashdot quote is appropriate: Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein

      I prefer this one (possibly stolen and probably misquoted from some slashdotter's sig):
      Imagine how smart the average person is. Now realise that half of all people are dumber than that.
      s/smart/enlightened.

      • by cusco (717999)
        That's from George Carlin. I occasionally get notes from pedants pointing out that 'mean' would be more appropriate than 'average', but if you think about delivering the line to 1,500 people (a goodly percentage of them drunk and/or stoned) 'average' is probably easiest for the majority to understand.
        • by Seumas (6865)

          When I argue mean versus average, I can never tell which half of the IQ population I am on. :)

        • See? I told you I'd probably get the quote wrong. I suggest you refer those pedants to Carlin; he'll certainly listen to criticism. (He won't change his act, but that's hardly a change.)
      • by rs79 (71822)

        I figured that out one day and assumed anybody who ever looked at a gaussian curve of IQ thought the same thing. Draw a line down the middle. The half on the left are not even of average intelligence.

        Now make a small circle on the right most bit. You are here. Next time you think "Fuck, is everyone stupid?!?" remember this.

    • I can only assume that their outrage was not based upon it being a woman, but it being Jane Austen.
  • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:27PM (#44413381)

    Why would you abuse someone for trying to get a woman on a banknote? I can't comment for the UK, but in Australia we've had the Queen on a note since forever, and Edith Cowan on the $50 since the 90s. Some people need to realise that it isn't 1678 any more.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Because idiots think it's some kind of feminazi conspiracy to force men off bank notes and turn everything into an act of sexual harassment. Just wait, even in these very comments there will be people telling her she has no right not to be threatened with rape and if she can't handle trolls on Twitter she should get off the internet.

      For what it's worth we have the Queen too, but she doesn't really count since she isn't there on merit. When they decided to change the only note with a woman on the other side

    • by deains (1726012)

      TBH I think the issue about the bank notes themselves is fairly peripheral to all this. The "people" (for want of a better word) sending these abusive tweets probably couldn't care less about who's on the back of their money, they just simply hate women and so will take any opportunity to threaten, belittle and abuse them anonymously. This article in the Telegraph kinda gives some insight: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10208418/Twitter-abuse-What-women-hating-trolls-really-believe.html [telegraph.co.uk]

      • by Seumas (6865)

        Funny, because I think the whole gender thing is completely irrelevant, also. The issue is about censorship and when something crosses the line into illegality. Especially online, where something written may not have the same context or implications of something physically written in real life. I mean, seriously, who among us has not been insulted or even threatened many times on the internet in the last couple of decades? It doesn't matter what your skin color, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, or

      • couldn't care less

        Jesus H Christ! Someone actually got this right, instead of writing "I could care less", or it's bastard cousin "I could give a damn".

        Sorry to interrupt. Just needed to get that out.

        • by xaxa (988988)

          couldn't care less

          Jesus H Christ! Someone actually got this right, instead of writing "I could care less", or it's bastard cousin "I could give a damn".

          Sorry to interrupt. Just needed to get that out.

          99% of British people will say "couldn't". "I could care less" is an Americanism (Americanizm?).

      • Putting a WRITER on bank notes is weird. Stamps fine, but money should have Statesmen on them.
    • by arth1 (260657)

      Last I checked, the British had a woman on all banknotes and coins.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Edith Cowan on the $50 since the 90s.

      You need to look at some smaller notes [wikipedia.org]

    • by Alioth (221270)

      Well the Queen is on the front of all the Bank of England notes, and Elizabeth Fry is on the back of the 5 pound note. What I don't understand is why there wasn't any controversy about Adam Smith being on the back of the 20 pound note given he is the darling of the right wing and Scottish to boot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:29PM (#44413395)

    in support of feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who faced a torrent of abusive tweets, including threats to rape and kill her, after successfully campaigning for a woman's picture to appear on a banknote;

    Holy shit, man! What the fuck is this? Welcome to Iran, now available in places other than Iran.

  • by YukariHirai (2674609) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:34PM (#44413509)

    Rape and death threats over pushing for a woman's face on a banknote? Even if you're not fond of feminism, that's overreacting quite a lot.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:41PM (#44413615)
    If someone makes a threat, arrest them and file charges (which has been done in this case). Only when actions have real life consequences will the trolls Learn.
    • by Seumas (6865) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:20PM (#44414167)

      Because they don't want someone to have to go to the courts and actually prove that anything happened or was intended. They want to be able to hit a little button on a message and force businesses to supersede the process and make determinations themselves about the content and intent of conversation.

      If someone makes a threat on your life that you have reasonable and plausible cause to fear as legitimate, then go to the police. It's already a crime. I don't like the idea of Twitter stepping in and taking on that role any more than I liked the idea of Youtube replacing the court system to deal with DMCA legal complaints by facilitating copyright complaints *themselves* (think, someone wrongly claiming rights to content in your video and being granted the right to put ads on your videos and receive money from them without Youtube giving you the opportunity to address the situation in court, as per the DMCA process).

      Everyone cares about free speech and nobody honestly thinks anyone should have to put up with _serious_ actual threats (note, this is different from harassment or "verbal abuse") . . . but how do you properly deal with one while not overstepping onto the other? And do you trust a business and a couple people clicking a "I don't like this comment you guise!" button to make the call?

  • by conner_bw (120497) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:47PM (#44413687) Homepage Journal

    Rape and death threats? How much misplaced pride and prejudice [pressbooks.com] can a mob of idiots have?

    Snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more?

  • by Seumas (6865) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:54PM (#44413781)

    The inherent problem with things like this are always with making sure that you don't infringe upon free speech -- hyperbole, sarcasm, irony, humor, and rudeness -- and only get involved in situations where realistic threats are legitimately intended and made. I understand this is in the UK, but do people really want a "zero-tolerance"/TSA style "everything ever uttered is suspicious and must be investigated and vetted" approach? Further, there are already relevant laws in most places to deal with things like this, so . . . how about we leave it at that instead of a business and a mob of users superseding it?

    I often feel people simply aren't prepared to handle the internet. As if most of us haven't been on the receiving end of "abuse" online? Haven't been "attacked" or even threatened? Or told that they should be killed? Ever read youtube comments? How about the comment section on any news article that Matt Drudge links to? How about if someone "feels threatened" (or simply offended) by something? We see a lot of that in the real world, as it is. People being punished for something, not because of what they said or the intentions behind it, but how some busy-body "received it"? Does it apply across the board? Is it, as the article's commentary seems to imply, only an issue for "women"?

    Hell, have I crossed the line, simply for having the wrong genitalia and not simply jumping on the bandwagon of support for this? (Because, yes, my concerns about people's freedom of speech and people not taking everything seriously and as a threat or offense totally means that I'm in favor of people being threatened and stalked and physically abused... right?).

    This all goes back to that whole thing with the MySpace girl that was tricked/harassed (verbally) by neighbors (including adults) until she committed suicide. Or that Youtube girl who committed suicide after her escapades with a grown man brought judgement and insults from people at school both before and after she committed suicide. Yeah, it was harassment and bullying, but we also acknowledge that words don't directly force you to harm yourself. We all hate that bitch and her family for what she did to that poor girl and the consensus seems to be that most of the world wished harm on her. . . but that is distinct from using the law to determine when and why to make exceptions. That being a meany-head is suddenly a crime. That free speech isn't so free, any more. That my thin-skin or lack of a support-group around me is your fault. And those events caused a lot of frustration on Slashdot, too -- because people found themselves so angry at what happened and the idea of someone "getting way with it" . . . . yet opposed to infringing on people's rights to express thoughts. Even shitty ones.

    In other words, here too, people need to back the fuck up from "wow, that's shitty -- of course we should do something about it!" and take the time to consider the greater impact of some institutionalized response.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:30PM (#44414265) Homepage

      As if most of us haven't been on the receiving end of "abuse" online? Haven't been "attacked" or even threatened?

      The law is fairly clear. If you make a specific threat against someone and it isn't clearly a joke then it doesn't matter if you intended to carry it out, if you had the means to or if the person felt threatened. To be absolutely clear feeling threatened or offended is not enough, there has to be a specific and seemingly serious threat.

      Yeah, it was harassment and bullying, but we also acknowledge that words don't directly force you to harm yourself.

      I doubt very much those people chose to harm themselves. They were clearly driven to it by mental anguish due to bullying. Some of us may be able to shrug that stuff off like a Vulcan but the effect of sustained psychological abuse on normal people is quite well documented. Some of the most effective torture doesn't involve any physical harm to the victim.

      For years now there has been a campaign to recognize mental illness as being the same as physical illness. It's not a sign of weakness or a feeble mind, it's the way the human brain works. Apparently they still have a long way to go convincing people.

    • by Jahta (1141213)

      The inherent problem with things like this are always with making sure that you don't infringe upon free speech -- hyperbole, sarcasm, irony, humor, and rudeness -- and only get involved in situations where realistic threats are legitimately intended and made.

      No, the inherent problem is people who think that, because it's on the internet, they can get away with threatening behaviour by dressing it up as a free speech issue; "hey dude, I was just expressing my hyperbole/sarcasm/irony/humor/rudeness/whatever".

      Like for example, one of the guys quoted in this article (thanks to deains [slashdot.org] for the link in another thread) Twitter abuse: What women-hating trolls really believe - Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk]; "She would know these men wouldn’t actually come and rape her. They don’

    • I've been the subject of abuse online and offline. Some abuse can be shrugged off. If someone replies to my comment telling me that I'm an idiot and all of my viewpoints are garbage, I'll care about it for about one nanosecond. That's all Some Random Commenter I Don't Know deserves.

      On the flip side, there are some people who will start to repeatedly harass you online over and over. I had one woman who would harass me on Twitter and on my blog. Then she harassed my wife as well. She has a history of ha

    • by ZorroXXX (610877)

      For any (large) group communication space, there is always a need for (some) moderation. See http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2005/05/a-group-is-its-own-worst-enemy.html [codinghorror.com] for some discussion for instance.

      Imagine a line representing freeness of speech, with 0% at one end and 100% at the other end (the word freeness here meaning lack of any restrictions). Where on that line would you put a cross for the optimum value of free speech? There are no countries in the world (or any society though history) that al

    • Sorry, no. The whole attitude that it's OK to threaten and berate people online because you're anonymous, in a manner that one would never dare do in person, is a problem. Free speech doesn't mean you can walk up to a guy in a bar and insult his mother; or, rather, you *can*, but it says nothing about the possible consequences.
  • by Cruciform (42896) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:22PM (#44414195) Homepage

    A couple of years ago, a user by the name of @goferet was sending regular rape and death threats to women. I saved links to 8 of the rape threats and 2 of the death threats, and contacted Twitter support.

    They responded that his actions did not violate their terms of service. I pointed them directly to the terms of service page, and the specific mention of threats.
    They didn't see a problem with what he was saying. Specifically things like he was planning to climb in their windows at night and rape them, some of them past rape victims who were campaigning for better investigations and fairer treatment of victims.

    I thought maybe it was just the one idiot in support I was getting, but even the @support account didn't think anything of it.

    What eventually did stop him making the threats was that I contacted people that he was associated with on Twitter and suggested they read his feed directly, so they could see what he was doing in his mentions, outside of the regular feed they saw. There was some disgust, and one person who knew him got him to finally shut his mouth.

    Obviously there was an element that could have been "Leave it to the police", especially when some of the people he was attacking lived in the same city. But since Twitter was ignoring their *own* policies to let him threaten other users it was pretty vile on their parts.

  • by rainer_d (115765) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:30PM (#44414269) Homepage
    Just pay by credit-card or ask for 2*5 in return...

    I'm really surprised at what people can get worked up on.

    • by wcrowe (94389)

      Exactly. In an age where cash is not that necessary, and you can put pretty much whatever picture you want on your credit card, I am surprised people care either way.

      Feminist: "I want a woman on a bank note!"
      Me: Srsly?

      Misogynist: "I don't want a woman on a bank note!"
      Me: Srsly?

  • Every time I gain a little faith in humanity, it falls into a sinkhole as we see here with the twitter abuse, only to be built back up by good hearted people (the 55,000). We live in extra bizarre times thanks to mass communication. Across the whole of the earth, I often wonder which dominates: good or evil? Is evil hereditary for some and good others, or do social conditioning factors override that very notion? I doubt it's that simple anyway, but I really truly don't understand much of what drives hatre
    • by spire3661 (1038968) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:08PM (#44414793) Journal
      Good dominates by far. If not we would be consumed with killing each other all the time. We are not 'broken', we are growing up to be gods, its not always pretty. We'll get there. ITs discussions like this that expose our still child-like nature.
      • by wjcofkc (964165)
        Well said. I needed a reminder that I closely hold extropian ideals. Lately I have found it easy to lose my way in the chaos of our growing pains.
    • "Across the whole of the earth, I often wonder which dominates: good or evil?"

      My personal belief? Good dominates but evil is louder.

  • ...and little less Pride and Prejudice, I think. Perhaps if we tried some Persuasion...

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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