Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, and Kezia Dugdale are supporting an Amnesty International campaign which claims that Twitter has become baneful for women. The three women reported that they had been threatened with death and rape on the social network.
Twitter disagrees with the human rights group; says its network has no power to “delete hatred and prejudice from the society.” It’s worse on social media because there’s no real conversation taking place, so it’s much easier for people to become toxic behind their keyboards. It emphasised further that it had reviewed its policies severally to improve safety and curtail abusive tweets on its network.
The #ToxicTwitter campaign features interviews of over 80 women which give detail on violence and abuse against women on issues about race and sexual preferences. These women are threatened with rape and death on a daily, with journalists and public figures being targets. Twitter users who are not public figures who speak against racism and homophobia also receive similar threats.
Kate Nevens, the charity’s Scottish director has expressed her disappointment with the social network. She said it’s condescending how Twitter moved from a “vital source of news” to a toxic place where women receive threats and abuse because of their sexual preferences. “Our video interviews with Scottish political leaders and activists illustrate just how toxic some of this abuse which largely goes unchecked. In the last year, we have seen a wave of online solidarity and activism from women and men around the world- much of it powered by social media platforms such as Twitter, but the impact of the #MeToo or #TimesUp movements will be limited if women fear speaking out in the wake of abuse,” she said.
Nicola Sturgeon, a regular Twitter user, also expressed her dissatisfaction towards the increased violence and threats by transphobic, homophobic and racist people on the social media platform. She worries that should the menace continue, the forthcoming generation of women will be put off politics. “If there are any comments about any politician that cross that line and become not just abusive but threatening or sexist, racist, homophobic, then I think it is appropriate to take action,” she noted.
Former Scottish Labour leader and gay rights activist, Kezia Dugdale, said she had received death threats severally and how she suffers humiliation because of her sexual preference. She said: “If I were to show you my Twitter mention column just now, 90% of it would be abuse. I have to look at that every time to scroll through the good stuff trying to find those people who are genuinely trying to engage on an issue or ask a question about the substance on something you’ve raised in the Scottish Parliament.”
With the recent scandal with Facebook, Twitter may review its policies soonest.