AN SNP MP has accused Twitter of failing to protect women from online abuse.

The social media giant was earlier today facing questions from Joanna Cherry and other MPs about online conduct and the safety of women as part of the Human Rights Committee at Westminster.

Katy Minshall, head of UK government, public policy and philanthropy for Twitter, was first of all asked by Cherry to acknowledge there is a problem with abuse of females when it comes to online abuse.

The MP for Edinburgh South West then turned her attention to the social media platform’s hateful conduct policy.

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“You are aware that sex is a protected characteristic of the equality act, and that discrimination on the grounds of sex is unlawful?” asked Cherry. “So why does your hateful conduct policy not protect women?”

Minshall responded: “Our hateful conduct policy does include gender and gender identity as a protected characteristic.”

“Yes,” retorted Cherry, “but in terms of the equality act, sex is a protected characteristic, why does your policy not cover that?”

Minshall said that their definitions were based on those of the UN and that their protection of gender included protecting women, meaning that abuse of women on their platform is a violation of Twitter’s rules.

The SNP MP asked if Minshall could follow up explaining why the social media platform had taken the decision to exclude sex is a protected characteristic.

The Twitter executive confirmed that she would be happy to do so.

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Cherry then showed the committee a couple of examples of online abuse of women, including a video of a gamer named SonicFox, whose real name is Dominique McLean, using his character to violently attack women in the video game.

The tweet that accompanied the video carried the words: “This is what I do to TERFs.”

There were audible gasps from some of those present as the video played.

The tweet and video was not initially taken down by Twitter, despite being flagged as inappropriate, and was only removed when a number of high-profile figures, including Cherry, tweeted about it.

Minshall gave an account of Twitter’s rule-making policy, to which Cherry intervened to ask whether or not the omission of any specific discrimination on the grounds of sex from their policies had led to the tweet in question not being removed when it was first flagged.

“I’m wondering if that could be what is going wrong here, that the training is not covering the fact that sexist, misogynistic, demeaning behaviour should be treated as seriously as abuse of, for example, trans people,” said Cherry.

“As gender and gender identity is included as a protected characteristic, my understanding is that it is absolutely included in the training, but I am very happy to write to you afterwards with the details of that,” replied Minshall.

A Tweet containing a picture of a real hand, holding a real gun and pointed at a cartoon with the caption “Shut the f*** up TERF” was produced as evidence of a tweet which was flagged and initially not deemed inappropriate enough to be removed before eventually being removed following uproar.

Mishall admitted that Twitter had made a mistake when initially deciding not to remove the tweet.

Cherry went on to ask that if the word c*** was there in place of TERF, would the tweet have been removed sooner?

Once again, the Twitter executive said that she would follow up in writing.