Two thirds of Twitter users do not feel protected against anonymous abusive messages survey finds

Almost two thirds of Twitter users do not feel protected by the platform, while 70 per cent say that they would not know how to make a complaint to Twitter should they receive an anonymous abusive message and most wanted a change in the law to protect them.

The microblogging platform, which has been in the news of late following a campaign of abusive messages being sent to Labour MP Stella Creasy, historian Mary Beard and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, has moved to change its methods of handling such abuse.

YouGov ‘sampled 1042 adults who have used Twitter in the last month in Great Britain. Of that number, 542 were male and 500 were female.

Asked whether they felt protected by Twitter to take action against those who sent abusive messages, three per cent responded to say that they felt protected 'a lot', while 22 per cent said that they felt protected 'a little'. However, 41 per cent said that they felt they that were not protected 'much' and 23 per cent said that they felt that they were not protected 'at all'. 11 per cent responded by saying that they 'didn’t know'.

Asked whether they would know how to complain to Twitter having received abuse, 25 per cent said that they would know, while 70 per cent said they wouldn’t, and five per cent responded ‘Don’t know’.

Over half (51 per cent) said that they felt it was the responsibility of the web hosting company to remove offensive messages or comments from the internet, while exactly a quarter said that free speech should be protected and messages not removed from online.

Almost two thirds (61 per cent) would support a change to the law to make website companies remove abusive comments once they had received a complaint, with 22 per cent opposing such a suggestion and 70 per cent felt that IP addresses should be provided of those leaving abusive messages in order to trace them.

However, the survey also found that 74 per cent of respondents had not received anonymous abuse through the platform, while eight per cent said that they had and 20 per cent said that they knew someone who had experienced this.

Of those who had received anonymous abuse, over half (52 per cent) stated that they did not make any attempt to remove the comments.

Twitter declined to comment on the research results.

Last week, Twitter applied new rules following the reports around abusive messages and said that it was developing a button to enable users to report abuse, with UK general manager Tony Wang issuing an apology to those affected.

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