A 21-year-old man has been arrested by police in Manchester after allegedly making rape and death threats to a female campaigner on Twitter.
Caroline Criado-Perez, who led a successful campaign to get women represented on British banknotes, said she had been sent a number of threatening tweets since the Bank of England revealed on Thursday that Jane Austen would replace Charles Darwin as the new face of the £10 notes from 2017.
In an interview with the BBC, she said that “there were threats of violence [and] there were threats of rape”. Criado-Perez complained to the police, and described Twitter’s complaints procedure as “completely inadequate”.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said, “The Met received allegations of malicious communications on Twitter on Thursday July 25. Detectives in Camden are leading the investigation and on Sunday, a 21-year-old man was arrested in the Manchester area on suspicion of harassment. He remains in custody.”
Criado-Perez’s campaign began after it was announced that Elizabeth Fry, the only woman other than the Queen to currently appear on banknotes in England and Wales, would be removed from £5 notes.
After 30,000 people added their signatures to a petition on Change.org calling for greater female representation, the Bank of England said last week that Austen would replace Darwin.
It is believed that the author was already in line to replace the famous naturalist. Sir Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank, said in June that Austen was “quietly waiting in the wings”.
In the wake of the online abuse aimed at Criado-Perez, Times columnist Caitlin Moran suggested a ‘trolliday’ on August 4 – whereby Twitter users would take part in a 24-hour boycott of the micro-blogging site in order to encourage it to take firmer action on abusive users.
Telegraph blogger Mic Wright argued that such action would only encourage the trolls, though it has attracted significant online attention so far.
UPDATE: Holly Dustin, campaigner for women’s group End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said, “Twitter’s response to this seems wholly inadequate. They have to start talking to experts and groups and move forward to implement measures that prove threats of this nature will not be tolerated. Social networking provides a useful platform for women’s voices to be heard, but these companies have to step up to the mark and take responsibility to ensure that this is not undermined by incidents such as this.”