The woman who convinced the Bank of England to make Jane Austen the new face of the £10 note has received rape and death threats from Twitter users.
Feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez received around 50 abusive tweets an hour for a 12-hour period after she successfully campaigned for the British writer to feature on the bank note.
MPs and celebrities have now begun a campaign urging Twitter to develop a button to allow users to report abuse. More than 22,700 people had signed up as of lunchtime on Sunday.
Ms Criado-Perez said: “It’s sadly not unusual to get this kind of abuse but I’ve never seen it get as intense or aggressive as this.
“It’s infuriating that the price you pay for standing up for women is 24 hours of rape threats. We are showing that by standing together we can make a real difference.
“We made the Bank of England change its mind, we can do the same with Twitter.”
Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, described the abuse as “not only disgusting, but criminal”.
“A quick look at Twitter this morning shows that women are not prepared to stand by and take this kind of abuse,” she said.
“Twitter needs to get its house in order, and fast.”
High-profile journalists including Caitlin Moran and Suzanne Moore have joined Ms Creasy in signing up to the petition.
Ms Criado-Perez’s campaign for Austen to appear on the new bank note attracted more than 35,000 signatures after the Bank of England revealed it was planning to replace Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill on new £5 notes – meaning there would be no women other than the Queen on sterling bank notes.
A Twitter spokesman said: “The ability to report individual tweets for abuse is currently available on Twitter for iPhone and we plan to bring this functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web.
“We don’t comment on individual accounts. However, we have rules which people agree to abide by when they sign up to Twitter. We will suspend accounts that once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules.
“We encourage users to report an account for violation of the Twitter rules by using one of our report forms.”
Tony Wang, the general manager of Twitter UK, later tweeted that the company is testing ways to simplify the reporting of abuse.
“We encourage users to report an account for violation of the Twitter rules by using one of our report forms,” he said.
“Also, we’re testing ways to simplify reporting, e.g. within a Tweet by using the ‘Report Tweet’ button in our iPhone app and on mobile web.
“We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules.”