Right. Apologies for that brief intermission to go and swim and drink lots of beer and raki in Greece (it was awesome, thank you for asking 😊). Back to the announcement which the Bank of England finally made agreeing that it was inappropriate for there to be no women in its banknotes and that it would therefore bring forwards the introduction of the new £10 note featuring Jane Austen. Caroline Criado Perez was delighted. So were a lot of other people, as you would expect, and she received numerous congratulatory messages. But, overwhelming the congratulations, both in number and in effect, was the abuse, which came largely over social media. And when I say abuse, I mean serious abuse – threats of violence, threats of sexual violence, threats of murder, threats that she would be gang raped, threats that she would be gang raped and then murdered.
These threats were constant, flooding her social media accounts, sometimes up to 100 an hour, and relentless. They went on and on and after a week she was at breaking point. You can read her own account of the experience here. Warning: this account contains quotes of a large number of the messages she received, and the language is very graphic and very ugly. Please don’t read if it will upset you.
If you do read the messages, or even if you don’t, you will probably be as horrified as I am. And the next question is, what happened next? People who could be traced and identified were making hideous and ugly threats against Criado Perez, and not just against her but against her female supporters. MP Stella Creasy and journalists Hadley Freeman and Grace Dent, amongst other women, had bomb threats made against them which were warranted sufficiently serious for the police to be involved and for them to be advised to leave their homes. Under the circumstances you’d think that both the police and the owners of the social media platforms which the perpetrators were using to make their threats would do something about it.
More tomorrow. Really.