Female politicians and journalists abused every 30 seconds on Twitter

"If you’re a woman on Twitter, you knew it already"

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Female politicians and journalists abused every 30 seconds on Twitter - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

"If you’re a woman on Twitter, you knew it already, but the numbers are here," the Financial Times's European technology correspondent, Madhumita Murgia, said on Twitter.

New research by human rights organization Amnesty International finds that female politicians and journalists are abused every 30 seconds on the social media platform.

More than 1 million abusive tweets were directed at well-known female journalists and politicians on Twitter in the past year, according to the largest ever study of online attacks on women, with women of colour most susceptible.

Murgia is right: we women know this already. Hopefully Amnesty International's numbers will foster a change in how we treat online abuse, and trigger action in protecting women in the digital realm.

Details from the story:

  • Amnesty International and Element AI analysed 300,000 tweets from 2017 that mentioned one of 778 specially selected women. The researchers then labelled any abuse targeted at gender, race and sexuality.
  • Overall, 1.1m abusive tweets were sent to the women, with women abused on Twitter every 30 seconds in 2017.
  • Women of colour were more likely to be targeted, with black women twice as likely to be victims of online hate speech.
  • Diane Abbott, Britain's shadow home secretary, received more abuse than any other British woman in 2017. She was the target of nearly 30,000 hate speech posts on Twitter in a year.
  • While abusive speech occurs across social media platforms, it is perhaps most explicit on Twitter, the platform used by many public-facing jobs, such as journalism and politics.
  • Milena Marin, senior adviser for Tactical Research at Amnesty International, said it wasn't the organization's job to analyse tweets, but Twitter's actions as gatekeepers, instead of being transparent around the abuse data, left them "no choice".
  •  "We have the data to back up what women have long been telling us — that Twitter is a place where racism, misogyny and homophobia are allowed to flourish basically unchecked," said Marin.
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