Police probe more high-profile sexist Twitter death threats as Mary Beard speaks out

More threats of violence against high-profile women have emerged on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Journalists Laurie Penny and India Knight were the latest victims in a recent online surge in abuse against women. Both received bomb threats yesterday.

Penny, who writes for the Guardian, tweeted a screenshot of the offending message, which read, "Your house is going to be firebombed at 8.14pm today. This is definitely going to happen. Make sure your there so u die."

Penny later said, "Thank you everyone for the messages of support. I've also been contacted by @TwitterUK who have been as helpful as they can be."

India Knight took to the site to write, "Very grateful to @metpoliceuk, but officers wouldn't have to waste their time if @twitter could deal w this crap."

Other recent high-profile victims of Twitter death threats include classicist Mary Beard, journalists Hadley Freeman, Grace Dent and Catherine Mayer and Labour MP Stella Creasy.

Beard, who reported a bomb threat to police on Sunday, told BBC Breakfast this morning that she has received a further series of intimidating messages since.

Beard also called for abuse to be distinguished from the extreme types of threats she and fellow women have been subjected to.

Speaking of the bomb messages, Beard said, "These are criminal threats, they are threats of violence and death and all you can do is take them to the police. There is no two ways about it, threatening to kill someone is a crime and that's what I and other people have done and I hope other women who get these threats will do the same."

Twitter was at first slow to react, but has provided satisfactory support over the last day or so, according to Beard.

Meanwhile a petition calling for the social network to implement a Report Abuse button on its website has attracted 130,000 signatures.

Twitter has reacted by clarifying its user guidelines and hiring extra staff to help handle future incidents on the site.