Twitter, social media and the abuse scandal

Twitter’s reputation has been sullied in recent weeks after a number of high profile women received

Twitter’s reputation has been sullied in recent weeks after a number of high profile women received abuse and death threats over the social media website. In particular women have been the target of such comments, with many sexually explicit remarks made towards them. In light of this, what is the culture of Twitter? Is this an example of how women are perceived in the media?

A very different interpretation

When the Bank of England discussed replacing Charles Darwin on the £10 note, campaigners suggested that the new famous person from history to grace it should be female.

One might think this is a fairly innocuous suggestion, particularly considering a suggestion was Jane Austen, one of Britain’s most famous female writers. Caroline Criado-Perez, a prominent and successful campaigner for the change, was left with a very different interpretation, as was fellow supporter and MP, Stella Creasy.

A Twitter silence

Both women have been inundated with threats of rape and violence over the social media platform. Creasy even received pictures of a masked man holding a knife with accompanied by an extremely threatening message. A man has since been arrested in connection with the abusive messages. However, it’s not just women who have a connection to the campaign that have received abuse over Twitter. One user told Mary Beard, classicist and TV presenter, that a bomb was going to be placed outside her home.

In the light of such actions on Twitter, Caitlin Moran, a journalist, endorsed the idea of a Twitter silence to force the Internet giant into taking action. In addition, many influential Tweeters have called for Twitter to make the process of reporting abuse easier.

Tony Wang, the UK boss of Twitter has publically apologised to the women who have received such abuse and a “report abuse” button will be initiated on the site’s website.

The culture of Twitter

What does this scandal say about the culture of Twitter, though?

When it first came to the fore as a Facebook contender, its unique selling point was the fact that it allowed unprecedented access to celebrities and famous people. Before Twitter, it was nigh on impossible to talk to your favourite band or any prominent public figure without some form of relation or connection. Now, however, Twitter’s connectivity has become a double-edged sword. In allowing yourself to enter a world of greater connection, you also give others access to you.

Given the relative ease of creating an account and the anonymity of the Internet, people are able to create fake ones in order to target and attack others with unreasonable comments and accusations.

Not everyone is a troll

That’s not to say that everyone on Twitter is a troll. The majority use it to keep up with their interests and converse with people. A subset, however, have used its connectivity and access for less sociable purposes.

It’s not just the culture of Twitter that the recent scandals have called into question, it’s also the perception of women in the media. Never before has there been such a huge onslaught of misogynistic abuse over the Internet.

The campaign for a woman to be on the £10 note, spearheaded by a woman, has exposed what appears to be a violent desire to assert male dominance. It seems that whilst laws have been changed and regulations enforced to promote equality between men and women, some still hold archaic views and are using new technologies to make their voices heard.

A deep anger against women

The Twitter abuse scandal has, then, exposed a considerable number of people with misogynistic attitudes who are willing to express such views on a public platform. Some might attempt to dismiss the seriousness of such comments as flippant, ignorant remarks made by those with little intention of following through with their threats.

However, it certainly points towards a deep anger against women, particularly those who challenge the status quo.

What do you think of these events and the culture of Twitter? Can this be prevented? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.