Gina Miller, the woman who led the legal case against the government’s process for exiting the European Union and won, has accused Facebook of failing to take "responsibility" for stopping users from inciting violence and making death threats against her.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News on Tuesday after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Miller and her fellow campaigners, she said social media platforms were not doing enough to cooperate with police investigating "violent threats" against her, and said they had failed to "provide the police with what they need to track down these individuals".
Miller, who has faced calls for her to be hung, shot, and gang-raped, said half of the abuse she has faced came via social media, including on Facebook, and that the platforms were not doing enough to stop it.
"They have to take responsibility for the content on their website," she said of Facebook.
"There has to be monitoring [of content], and they cannot allow people to break the law because, by inference, you could argue they are allowing sexual violence and violence to be incited.
"Where is their social responsibility, where is their civic duty in all of this?"
Social media companies had not helped the police investigating the abuse against her, she said. "The policemen who have been investigating have found it incredibly difficult to get the information they need to go after the people who originated these threats," she said. "Those details should be handed over immediately."
She said it was "absolutely disgraceful" how someone could "post on social media, for example, that I should be gang-raped or that there should be a £5,000 bounty on my head".
Miller said police had sent eight cease-and-desist letters during the course of their investigations, had made one arrest, and were currently pursuing more than 12 live investigations.
Facebook said it could not discuss Miller's case in detail, but said it had a "comprehensive reporting system" in place and worked with law enforcement where appropriate.
Miller has faced a constant stream of abuse on Facebook since the Article 50 legal challenged was launched, and it continued after the ruling on Tuesday.
She said that in one previous instance, her personal information had been shared on Facebook alongside calls for her to be gang-raped.
"Those messages are stirring up violence and hatred and that is actually against the law," Miller said. "So these media outlets are allowing people to break the law.
"People can put up my photograph on Facebook, publish all my details that are publicly available – my email, my phone numbers – and invite people to gang-rape me.
"How is Facebook not taking any responsibility for that? Facebook is inciting sexual violence."
She said the post was eventually taken down from Facebook, "but then it went back up the same afternoon, and then came back down, but they were very, very reluctant. We did have to send legal letters to them to ensure that that was taken down."
When asked how the posts affected her, Miller replied: "It doesn’t, it fuels me more to think if others are walking away from their responsibility, and [others are] having to suffer this, it has empowered me even more.
"Because what has happened – and I didn't envisage it -– is that people would see me as a place of safety. I’ve had some incredibly heartbreaking stories from people who have lived here 10, 20 years and about how they are being treated is despicable, so I have to stand up and make those things known."
BuzzFeed News put Miller's criticisms to Facebook. The company said it could not discuss the detail of her case, but in a statement a spokesperson said: “There is absolutely no place on Facebook for such threats. That’s why we have a comprehensive reporting system in place and our teams work around the clock to review content reported by our community, and take further action where necessary. We also work with law enforcement where appropriate to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook.”
Sara Spary is a consumer business correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Sara Spary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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