LONDON: Amnesty International, the human rights group, has accused Twitter of failing to prevent online violence and abuse against women, which is preventing many women from expressing themselves freely on the social platform.

Released on the same day that Twitter marked the 12th anniversary of its first tweet, the Amnesty report highlighted worrying findings from a survey of more than 1,000 British women coupled with interviews with more than 80 women – including politicians, journalists and regular users – across the UK and the US.

According to Amnesty, many women the organisation spoke to described how they had reported multiple tweets to Twitter with very few receiving a response.

For example, one British journalist told Amnesty that she had reported 100 abusive tweets, yet Twitter removed just two, while other prominent figures spoke of the abuse they had received, including even threats of death and rape.

Amnesty’s survey of British women also found that just 9% thought Twitter was doing enough to stop violence and abuse against women, while 78% did not think the platform was a place where they could share their opinion without receiving vitriolic remarks.

Amnesty, which accused Twitter of creating a “toxic” environment for women, drew two main conclusions – that it is failing to let users know how it interprets and enforces its policies or how it trains content moderators to respond to reports of violence and abuse.

Secondly, Amnesty said Twitter’s response to abuse is inconsistently enforced, resulting in content that stays on the platform despite violation of the rules.

However, Twitter said it disagreed with Amnesty’s findings. In a statement, the company said it “cannot delete hatred and prejudice from society”, adding that it had made more than 30 changes to its platform in the past 16 months to improve safety, including increasing the instances of action it takes on abusive tweets.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the ISBA trade body has launched an initiative to help advertisers tackle hate speech on social media platforms by flagging offensive content on a new #challengehate hashtag.

The new ISBA guidance also encourages advertisers to report hate speech to the relevant platform owner and, where appropriate, the police.

“ISBA thinks it is time we stand up to hate which is why we are today asking our members and indeed any other organisations which feel the same to do their bit to change things,” said Tanya Joseph, ISBA’s director of public affairs.

“By challenging hate online we can clean up the online space, both for brands, for our consumers, for our colleagues.”

Sourced from Amnesty International, ISBA; additional content by WARC staff