God I’m bored. Twitter is a lovely, lovely place. I don’t understand people who can’t get into Twitter. I used to work for a lady who was (HAH) spearheading the (HAH) social (HAH HAH) outreach for the support side of a major brand name internet monetization product, and she said proudly to me, on my last day (HAH) that she had a Twitter account, but then, quietly, she never Tweeted. I looked her up later, and the only people she followed were other corporate accounts within the same corporation. My god, woman. Talk about missing the point.

Anyway, I digress.

God I’m bored. See, the immediate thing is this: A couple of weeks ago everyone in the UK (yeah, I know: yawn) erupted about the announcement of the new currency…something something, I dunno I wasn’t really following. Apparently they were cycling through the people on the bank notes, and there weren’t any women left (people enjoyed pointing out, quite facetiously, “What about the QUEEN?!” but really you don’t need to be facetious about it). So yadda yadda, there was a campaign to keep at least one woman on the currency, and they settled on Jane Austen on the, I think, £10 note. I’m honestly too “meh” to look it up.

There were a few reactions to this, before anyone got to Twitter, that are worth pointing out:

a) It’s not feminist to maintain a single woman in a situation like this. Feminism would mean “any woman who was worthy,” not “one woman.”

b) This comes from someone I (and at least one of you) follow on Twitter, but I can’t be bothered to get into an argument about it: “Oooh, Jane Austen isn’t even worthy, it just comes from Colin Firth coming out of a lake without a shirt one, and other whining noises.” You know what? Screw you. I mean that. Jane Austen novels have been dramatised since the beginning of film, and that one was particularly amazing. I know there are those among you who thought the lake scene was a big honking anachronism, but whatever, I enjoyed it. Never mind the lake. That whole six-episode series is a work of art from beginning to end. When it aired, we taped it (on cassettes!) and my dad spent literally over a year watching bits of it every. single. night, and would point out the way that Colin Firth’s eye narrows in reaction to something, or the way Jennifer Ehle’s shoulders would move, and other such details. It’s a very good dramatisation of a very good novel, and anyone who thinks that Jane Austen was a big nobody until Colin Firth came out of a lake can jump in that lake.

c) Well, I mean, the Queen, right?

But again, I’m digressing.

So there was a woman who was quite, apparently, productive in getting Jane Austen on the currency. I’d never heard of her before this started, nobody I follow had ever retweeted her and I’d never see her name pop up in a conversation I’d ever expanded, I honestly had no idea who she was. But she started getting 50 or so violent, gross rape threats per hour. For two weeks. “Oooh why can’t she just block them and stop whining,” go the people who don’t know much about the internet. Then a politician, also female, got targeted, and so it went. Then Grace Dent had a bomb threat sent to her. Then Mary Beard, the academic and classical historian, appeared on some chat show to talk about her experience with this sort of thing, which has always been ongoing, and in the middle of the ongoing rape crap she got a bomb threat.

Meanwhile, a videogame maker (male) changed the way a (videogame) gun works to make the game a little harder/easier/who gives an eff and got not only rape threats but the sort of thing like he should burn in the ovens that killed his ancestors.

None of this will come to any surprise to anyone who’s spent much time on the internet lo, these past 20 years or so. I’ve explained before that the reason I made my blog and generally my online persona anonymous was because of the way women are treated on the internet.

To recap:

• If you’re blonde and pretty but with nothing particularly original to say, you get like oh em gee so many links and comments and like it’s totes amaze how many people think you’re totally smart and stuff.

• If you say anything remotely unpopular to any segment of any population, no matter how remote or esoteric, you get the most vile misogynist abuse (who here remembers how early the blogosphere was when Michelle Malkin (whom I haven’t read for years, apropos of nothing at all) started publishing her varying “ping-pong ball” missives, hmm?

This second point also applies if you’re female, creative, Jewish, young, old, Rupert Murdoch, etc (but mostly female and Jewish, probably. Or Uncle Rupert).

Anyway, so far, so old news. But this is Twitter. This is a company which is very nearby, staffed by very right-on people, who all have a very high opinion of themselves. Lots of companies have high opinions of themselves. But all companies have terms of service, and all companies enforce those terms of service:

• Instagram suspended an artist acquaintance’s account because some of her paintings (very stylized) included nipples.

• We’ve all heard of the photos of breast feeding which have been flagged and taken down by Facebook.

• Google mobilized hundreds of people over a weekend to clean the porn out of Orkut, which has never been anything near anything approaching a core business of theirs. Most Googlers forget Orkut even exists. Orkut is named after a Google employee named Orkut.

• And Twitter has suspended for days the accounts of innocent journalists who got enough people marking their accounts as violating some Term or Condition or other. So ah hah, we know they’re capable of it!

Yes Twitter gets a billion tweets per second (can’t be bothered to look up the statistic, soz), but see also Facebook’s usage numbers, and Instagram’s, and everything else that Google has to deal with.

All you have to do is run a script: If someone with no followers tweets the same thing (usually a link with no words) to different users, it’s spam, guys (a repeat tweet will be blocked, but a different username gets it through the filter. Genius.) If a user with very few followers tweets a majority at users with a blue verified badge, monitor his account. If he starts using naughty words, put a human on it. Make it harder to create a new dummy account. And if you put in a Report Abuse button, make sure that over-use of that button results in the same effing punishment, you numbskulls. IT’S NOT THAT HARD.

Incidentally, I know exactly how Twitter should monetize but have they ever called me? No! Idiots.

Postscript: Yes Twitter has finally responded, yes they claim to be dealing with it, yes I’m sure they feel these women’s pain, but it’s not just the women, it’s not just now, and it’s not just Twitter. But at least Twitter has Ts & Cs that we can point to and shout “COME ON!”