These sorts of vile attacks are horribly commonplace
The story of how hundreds of men mounted a sustained online attack on Caroline Criado-Perez, threatening her with rape and violent assault in reaction to her successful campaign to get the face of Jane Austen on British £10 bank notes has caused public outrage.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the story is how commonplace this sort of vile attack is. Most women Tweeters with any sort of public profile have experienced unprovoked online assaults.
The vast majority of us want to see a fast, reliable way of the perpetrators of this sort of abuse facing the consequences of their actions.
But none of us has yet come up with an effective response.
- There are too many of these cases to expect the police to prioritise online investigations.
- In the same way, Twitter would have to change fundamentally (not allow anonymity or charge hefty membership rates) if it took over the role of policing itself.
- Similarly, although Tweeters will usually support others under-fire, the fact that this sort of perpetrator can swiftly set up numerous anonymous accounts makes that form of action ineffective.
- Tweeters who are targeted can of course block offenders, but that’s almost impossible to do when you’re under sustained attack – and why should the victims of any crime be responsible for taking action?
I don’t have a great idea for a magic bullet myself.
However, there are some good articles and blog posts out there suggesting different ways forward.
I’ve assembled these into the Storify below to help readers formulate their own ideas.
Please suggest any new ideas that I can add to the collection.