Chemmie Squier | Acting Fashion & Beauty Editor | Thursday, 26 May 2016

Study Shows The Huge Scale Of Misogyny On Twitter

Study Shows The Huge Scale Of Misogyny On Twitter

The Debrief: The results came from think tank Demos after monitoring Twitter UK for three weeks.

Online abuse is a very real and very troubling problem. Results from the UK Safer Internet Centre found that 24% of 13-18 year olds had been targeted by internet trolls due to their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability or transgender identity.

On top of that, statistics show that the problem is on the rise with convictions increasing by ten times in a decade. In 2014, 1209 were found guilty of offences under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. As well as this act, there's the Malicious Communications Act 1988 exists which covers comments that cause ‘distress or anxiety’. 

In April of last year, the maximum sentence for internet trolling was increased from six months to two years and the offence is defined as the following:

‘The offence covers sending a letter, electronic communication or article of any description to another person, which is in nature, or which conveys a message which is, indecent or grossly offensive, or conveys a threat or false information, with the purpose of causing distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom it is intended that its contents should be communicated.’

A new study by think tank Demos, monitored UK Twitter for three weeks and found that 6,5000 users had been targeted by 10,000 misogynistic and aggressive Tweets. In this research, they monitored the languaged used on Twitter, focusing on the use of the words ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ when used in an explicitly aggressive way which they deciphered using language-filtering algorithms.

Interestingly, and somewhat shockingly, they found that 50% of those sending agressive tweets were female. A previous investigation by the Guardian found that women invariably experience more bullying and abuse online, with articles written by women consistently receiving more abusive comments. They also found that eight out of 10 of their 10 most abused writers were women and their top 10 least abused were all men.   

Another study by Demos in 2014 had similar findings. Looking at the words 'rape', 'slut' and 'whore', they found that 'women are almost as likely as men to use the terms "slut" and "whore" on Twitter, and that women are increasingly inclined to use the same derogatory language that has been, and continues to be, used against them'.

Demos researcher Jack Dale, who's written about the study on their website, told us that, 'In total, we found 213,000 tweets containing aggressive uses of the words "slut" or "whore". A particularly interesting finding is that women appear to be just as comfortable using misogynistic language as men; the findings show that 50% of the total aggressive tweets were sent by women, while 40% were sent by men, and 10% were sent by organisations or users whose genders could not be classified.

'These figures therefore suggest that misogyny is being internalised and reiterated throughout society, perhaps giving the impression that this language is acceptable or "normal" both on and offline. This use of offensive language is not, therefore, confined to one discrete online group of "angry misogynists" but rather persists across genders, making this issue more complex than it first appears.'

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Tags: Twitter