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UK: study reveals aggressive and abusive tweets sent from UK Twitter accounts

23:57 Apr 26 2016 London, UK

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A new Demos social media study has mapped the thousands of aggressive and abusive tweets being sent from UK Twitter accounts – by both men and women.

The study, which specifically monitored the use of the words ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ by UK Twitter users over a three-week period, found 6,500 unique users were targeted by 10,000 explicitly aggressive and misogynistic tweets.

Internationally, over 200,000 aggressive tweets using the same terms were sent to 80,000 people in the same three weeks.

Using sophisticated in-house technology, Demos built algorithms to separate tweets being used in explicitly aggressive ways, instances of self-identification, and those that were more conversational in tone or commenting on issues related to misogyny (ie. referring to ‘slut shaming’, ‘slut walks’).

The study builds on Demos’ previous research in 2014, which found that ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ dominate misogynistic language on Twitter, and that both male and female users are responsible for the abuse. In this 2016 research, 50 per cent of the propagators were found to be women.

Growing public concern and political recognition of the extent and impact of hate speech and abuse on social media, particularly faced by women, has given rise to the #ReclaimTheInternet movement, which campaigns to support female participation in social media.
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