More than a hundred Twitter accounts that had been reported for sending abuse to high-profile women went on to post misogynist content again after the company failed to remove them.
Research has shown that nearly half of the accounts flagged over graphic sexist abuse sent to women including the Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and the former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton went on to repeat the offence.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a non-profit group, which conducted the research, said that Twitter’s failure to remove such accounts was “enabling and encouraging abusers to spew hate again”.
In September last year the group tracked misogynist abuse on Twitter towards nine high-profile women. As well as Clinton and Yousafzai, they included the actress Thandiwe Newton, the palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke, the American rapper Lizzo, the former first lady Michelle Obama, the US vice-president Kamala Harris, the former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and Clinton’s daughter Chelsea.
After reporting the accounts that posted abuse to these women, the CCDH noted that 253 of these accounts had still not been removed two months later.
The researchers analysed 235 of these accounts and found 111 went on to send more graphic misogynistic comments.
Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the CCDH, said: “Twitter’s track record is abysmal when it comes to protecting women and girls from abhorrent misogynist abuse.
“Every time an abuser goes unpunished, they are given permission to carry on as normal, and even escalate their attacks . . . At its sharpest end, women are being chased out of public life, which carries a direct threat to our democracy.”
A Twitter spokeswoman said: “It is our top priority to keep everyone who uses Twitter safe and free from abuse. While we have made recent strides in giving people greater control to manage their safety, we know there is still work to be done.”