It started, of all things, about currency.
What began as a campaign to put a female face on Britain's new £10 banknote sparked a vicious tirade of online abuse that saw a feminist receiving 50 rape threats an hour, and subsequently caused a backlash against Twitter for the company's failure to respond.
Caroline Criado-Perez was bombarded with threatening tweets after the Bank of England's announcement last week that her campaign to put author Jane Austen's image on its new note had been successful.
Male and female Twitter users threatened to personally attack Ms Criado-Perez.
"Everybody jump on the rape train . . . [Ms Criado-Perez] is the conductor", wrote one, according to screen shots on the I Will Not Put Up With This blog.
"Wouldn't mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you are ready to be put in your place," was another. "Rape threats? Don't flatter yourself. Call the cops, we will rape them too".
The affair took on a wider context when Ms Criado-Perez, a blogger, said Twitter's response to her complaint was unacceptable. It had told her to fill out a form describing the offensive behaviour.
"If you're someone who's receiving . . . about 50 rape threats an hour, it's just not practical to expect you to go and fill in this form every single tweet. They're on the side of the abusers, not the victims, and they really, really need to get on the side of the victims," she told ABC Radio on Monday.
When she tried to report the abuse to Twitter's manager of journalism and news, Mark Luckie, he allegedly shut his account.
Ms Criado-Perez's supporters have since gathered 50,000 signatures on a petition calling on Twitter to take a zero-tolerance policy to abuse on its site.
The opposition home secretary in Britain, Yvette Cooper, also wrote to Twitter criticising its "inadequate" response to the "disgraceful, appalling and unacceptable" comments.
The Guardian newspaper reports that police have arrested a 21-year-old man from Manchester on suspicion of harassment offences.
A Twitter spokesman said the social media site did "not actively monitor and will not censor user content", except in limited circumstances. It did not specify what those circumstances were.
"The ability to report individual tweets for abuse is already available on Twitter for iPhone, and we plan to bring this functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web," he said.
In Australia, a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said existing state and federal laws were strong enough to deal with serious online bullying.
Former attorney-general Nicola Roxon met premiers in October to discuss whether state and federal laws were protecting Australians against online bullying and offensive tweets.
"[The] attorneys-general agreed that current Commonwealth, state and territory laws provide appropriate coverage of serious instances of cyber bullying behaviour," Mr Dreyfus' spokeswoman said on Monday. She added that Australian officials could investigate abuse if either the victim or perpetrator was in Australia at the time of the conduct.
Twitter's rules say Twitter takes no responsibility for offensive or menacing tweeting. It directs users to "contact your local authorities so they can accurately assess the content or behaviour for possible violations of local law".
Twitter's law enforcement guidelines say it will release a user's personal information only if requested under court order. But that "may not be accurate if the user has created a fake or anonymous profile. Twitter doesn't require email verification or identity authentication".
In Australia anyone found using the internet or telephone to "menace, harass or cause offence" could be jailed for three years under the criminal code but the behaviour must be reported to police to investigate.
Twitter's lack of responsibility has previously come under fire in Australia, particularly after high-profile celebrities and sports stars spoke out against offensive tweeting.
Last year rugby player Robbie Farah became the face of an anti-bullying campaign after he received a message on Twitter relating to his late mother. Farah said he was "shocked" and "disgusted" and wanted the anonymous poster punished.
But NSW Police have confirmed that while officers spoke to Farah last September he had not made a formal statement or complaint.
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