Twitter Is An Awful Place For Female Politicians And Journalists, According To Study

The social media platform is even worse for women of color, according to Amnesty International.

A hand holds a phone with Twitter on its screen, with a computer screen also displaying Twitter in the background.
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The social media platform is even worse for women of color, according to Amnesty International.

A study about harmful and abusive behavior on social media yielded some pretty unsurprising results: users on Twitter target women with hateful messages on a regular basis.

What may be surprising, however, are the specific numbers that were discovered.

Amnesty International, working alongside artificial intelligence company Element AI (as well as 6,500 “troll patrol” volunteers from around the world), published its findings this week, demonstrating that women, and particularly women of color, face immense pressures and abusive messaging from other users on Twitter, according to reporting from New York Magazine.

The results are indeed staggering. Based on a large sample of tweets, studying what had been sent to nearly 800 women serving in political or journalism roles with an online presence, the study demonstrated that these women, in particular, received more than 1.1 million abusive tweets over the course of 2017.

That amounts to just over 7 percent of all the tweets sent out to women over the year, or one abusive tweet being sent to them every 30 seconds.

For women of color, the findings were even more dire. Black women, in particular, were 84 percent more likely to receive abusive tweets from users, and women of color, in general, were 34 percent more likely to get hateful tweets from other users online.

While the results paint a pretty ugly picture, Amnesty International is quick to point out that they’re only based on a sample of data that they collected. Twitter itself has not released to the public any information about harmful or abusive behavior toward female users on its platform.

The nonprofit organization is hopeful that the report will encourage Twitter to produce its own findings and take an actionable approach to deal with the problem, Milena Marin, Senior Adviser for Tactical Research at Amnesty International, said, according to a press release from the group.

“[The study] isn’t about policing Twitter or forcing it to remove content. We are asking it to be more transparent, and we hope that the findings from Troll Patrol will compel it to make that change.”

It didn’t matter what political affiliation women were a part of, either. The findings demonstrated that, whether liberal, conservative, or something else, women of all political stripes were targeted equally for abuse.

The study from Amnesty International and Element AI relied on more than 6,500 volunteers from 150 countries to become part of its “troll patrol.” The volunteers ciphered through more than 228,000 tweets sent to female journalists and politicians over the course of 2017.