“I am not safe”: Twitter ignores 5,000 rape messages sent to MP Jess Phillips

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

Jess Phillips has been left "bitterly disappointed" after Twitter decided not to act over the thousands of rape messages she received earlier this week.

The Labour MP said she was sent around 5,000 abusive tweets in just 36 hours after launching the cross-party initiative Reclaim The Internet, which aims to tackle the misogynistic abuse women face on social media, last Thursday. Of those thousands of tweets, 600 were rape threats - all of which she was subjected to over the course of Sunday evening.

Twitter then responded to the MP's attempt to report the abuse by stating that the tweets did not "violate" their rules, leading Phillips to brand the social media site as "not safe".

Twitter deemed that the abusive messages did not violate their rules

Twitter deemed that the abusive messages did not violate their rules

In a furious response to the lack of action taken by the social media site, Phillips wrote on, "The targeted harassment I have suffered... is persistent, illegal harassment, specifically designed to harm and silence me – and worse, to do the same to the people who interact with me

"If these were letters to my office the police would currently be fitting panic buttons and telling me to stay away. Yet Twitter appears willing to do absolutely nothing."

Describing how users on the site were debating the violent ways in which they wouldn't rape her, because they deemed her "officially not good enough for a raping", Phillips expressed her dismay that messages with such graphic content could be seen as acceptable by those who run the social media site.

"I hear them tell me that 'we reviewed the content (of your rape-y abuse) and determined that it was not in violation of the Twitter Rules' and my heart sinks. I am not safe there," she wrote. "Nothing will change, while those who profit from this activity keep turning away."

The MP noted that she didn't report the abuse in the way an MP would "usually" do so, having chosen to go down the "route others have to take" by pressing the site's public report button rather than emailing a contact.

The resulting lack of action she received left her "bitterly disappointed" and she issued a stark warning to other users of the site, writing, "Today, Twitter is colluding with my abusers; tomorrow it will do the same.

"Let’s hope that tomorrow it is me again who bears the scars, not your fragile son or daughter who might take it to heart."

Phillips helped launch Reclaim the Internet last week after research revealed the shocking extent of misogyny online, with over 200,000 abusive tweets sent to 80,000 users over a three week period: sadly, the abusive messages she was sent herself illustrate the urgent need for such an initiative.

Jess Phillips received 5,000 abusive messages over 36 hours

Jess Phillips received 5,000 abusive messages over 36 hours