After successfully campaigning to have old school author Jane Austen appear on the UK's ten-pound bill, Caroline Criado-Perez has been swamped with death threats and rape threats on Twitter. She reports seeing "about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours," describing the reaction as having "stumbled into a nest of men who coordinate attacks on women." The advocate has responded by retweeting the threats, which include promises of violent action, demeaning remarks, and plans to find her.
Over the weekend, British police arrested a 21-year-old man suspected of "harassment offences" [sic, because England]. However, this man's arrest did not halt the threats and abusive notes sent to Criado-Perez.
Criado-Perez has long been part of a media campaign that advocates women appearing on British bank notes. The abusive deluge started when the news was announced that Jane Austen would appear on printed bills. Austen will replace Charles Darwin as the new, old face of £10.
After British Parliament member Stella Creasy spoke in advocacy of Criado-Perez, she also started receiving rape threats on Twitter. Police are now investigating threats to Creasy as well.
This instance of violence has prompted a debate in the UK over Twitter's responsibility in the face of these threats. Advocates began an online petition to call for Twitter to adopt a zero tolerance policy and introduce a button that allows people to report abuse. The petition has received over 80,000 signatures.
Creasy has stated that blaming Twitter misses the point, "This is not about Twitter, this is about hatred of women and hatred of women who speak up."