Anna Codrea-Rado | Contributing Writer | Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Diane Abbott Receives Half Of All The Online Abuse Sent To Female Politicians

Diane Abbott Receives Half Of All The Online Abuse Sent To Female Politicians

The Debrief: In the six-month run up to the election 25,000 hateful tweets were sent to female MPs

Female politicians are sent tens of thousands of abusive tweets daily and Diane Abbott receives the lion-share of the hate, research from Amnesty International has found.  

The charity analysed tweets sent to female politicians in the six-month run up to the 2017 general election and found that over 25,000 abusive messages were sent. Of those, shadow home secretary Abbott received almost a third (31 percent). 

This figure increased as the election drew nearer. In the six-week period prior to June 8, Abbott received 45 percent of the abusive tweets. The research also found that she received 10 times more abuse than any other female MP in the run-up to the election and 8 times more abuse than any other female MP during the entire period of analysis.

'The online abuse [Abbott] and other women MPs experience sits in a wider context of pervasive and damaging attacks against women from all walks of life on social media platforms,' Amnesty said in a blogpost announcing the findings. 

Abbott spoke to Amnesty to about the threats and hate she’s subjected to online. 'It’s the volume of it which makes it so debilitating, so corrosive, and so upsetting. It’s the sheer volume. And the sheer level of hatred that people are showing,' she said.

Despite being in politics for over three decades, the abuse has only got worse. 

'When I was a new member of parliament, you might get one racist letter a week,' she said. 'But that was because if you were racist and you wanted to abuse an MP, you had to write a letter, you had to put it in an envelope, you had to put a stamp on it and you had to put it in the letter-box. Now, some days, we can get hundreds of items of abuse, depending on what happened the previous day.'

While she was the main recipient of the vitriol, Abbott wasn’t the only victim. Women from ethnic minorities were especially targeted; excluding Diane Abbott, black and Asian MPs received 35 percent more abusive tweets than white MPs. 

In its report, however, Amnesty emphasised this issue affects all female politicians. 'Online abuse cuts across party lines, affecting women from all UK political parties,' they said. 

In July, senior Labour figure Harriet Harman called on fellow party members to speak out against online abuse towards any female politicians, regardless of what party they belong to. 

In a statement made to iNews, Twitter said: 'Abuse and harassment have no place on Twitter. We’ve introduced a range of new tools and features to improve our platform for everyone, and we’re now taking action on ten times the number of abusive accounts every day then the same time in 2016. We will continue to build on these efforts and meet the challenge head on.'

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Follow Anna on Twitter @annacod

Tags: Politics, Twitter