Twitter Study Reveals Surprising Truths About Online Abuse

Posted: May 26 2016, 5:05pm CDT | by , in News | Technology News


Twitter Study Reveals Surprising Truths About Online Abuse
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Over half of the abuse sent on Twitter comes from women, the study finds.

Half of all misogynistic tweets posted on Twitter, both to other people and in general, come from women, a study suggests. This study took place over a three-week period and came from think tank Demos who counted the use of two words that are strong indicators of misogyny. Those words were "slut" and "whore."

In just those three weeks, over 6,500 unique users sent out 10,000 abusive tweets among. The study only looked at the UK, which makes this even scarier.

When the study expanded to an international level, over 200,000 aggressive tweets were found from over 80,000 people.

The tweets were scanned for those that used the words in a conversational tone and those that used them aggressively.

A bigger problem is that women are contributing to the problem just as much, if not more than some men do. Another study found that when a tweet talks negatively about someone's body or beauty, it will come from a woman four out of five times.

Jack Dorsey, the head of Twitter, has said in the past that tackling the abuse is one of their biggest priorities.

The research team was comprised of Yvette Cooper, Maria Miller, Stella Creasy, Jess Philips and former Liberal Democrat minister Jo Swinson, who have launched their "Reclaim the Internet" campaign. This all comes as abuse online has hit an all-time high, both for teenagers, celebrities, and pretty much anyone else who is somewhat active online.

Yvette Cooper, one of five female MPs working on the campaign, which aims to take on sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of aggressive behavior.

While launching the new movement, Cooper told the BBC: "The truth is nobody knows what the best answers are. There is more when there is criminal abuse, for example, rape threats, that the police should be doing but what is the responsibility of everyone else? What more should social media platforms be doing?"

She also said that the campaign was put in place in order for the public to “put forward their proposals and demands for the changes we want to see."

Twitter's head of trust and safety, Kira O'Connor responded to the study and its findings by saying “Hateful conduct has no place on the Twitter platform and is a violation of our terms of service. In addition to our policies and user controls, such as block, mute, and our new multiple tweet reporting functionality, we work with civil society leaders and academic experts to understand the challenge that exists."

In general, the rule for social media should be that if you wouldn't say a particular word, phrase, tweet, or comment to someone's face, you shouldn't do it online. Of course, being able to post anonymously is the appeal of online platforms, and in some ways it can be great. Still, there are a few people (when you look 200,000 out of the billions of people using social media) who try to ruin it for everyone.

So what can we do about it as people who contribute to the greater social media network?

It doesn't seem to scare many people that police have arrested people for what they say online. Some people have faced lengthy prison sentences or restraining orders.

In the ed, we have to teach children about online safety, politeness, and common courtesy like we do with traditional manners. As more and more of our lives center around online interactions, this is a critical skill to have.

Researcher Alex Krasodomski-Jones said: "This study provides a birds-eye snapshot of what is ultimately a very personal and often traumatic experience for women. While we have focused on Twitter, who are considerably more generous in sharing their data with researchers like us, it's important to note that misogyny is prevalent across all social media, and we must make sure that the other big tech companies are also involved in discussions around education and developing solutions."

She added that it was not about "policing the internet" but was more "a stark reminder that we are frequently not as good citizens online as we are offline."

As for where to go now, thousands have already used the hashtag #ReclaimtheInternet.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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