- Analysis of 2 million tweets exposes gender breakdown of online abuse as Demos publish report into how social media research can reveal public attitudes
- 1 in every 20 tweets sent to male celebrities includes abuse, with the majority of attacks posted by men
- Female journalists and male politicians more likely to feel brunt of Twitter attacks
An analysis of 2 million tweets by the think tank Demos reveals that male public figures are several times more likely than women to receive abuse on Twitter.
The think-tank analysed 2,006,616 tweets over a two-week period that were sent to a selection of the most prominent and widely-followed public figures on Twitter.
The study included celebrities, politicians, journalists and musicians – specifically chosen to ensure an equal number - roughly one million - were aimed at each gender.
- 2.54% of the tweets containing the @ username of male public figures contained abuse, compared to only 0.95% of the tweets received by prominent women.
- Over 1 in 20 (5.19%) of the tweets sent to male celebrities included abuse, compared with 1 in 70 (1.37%) aimed at female celebrities.
- Journalism is the only category where women received more abuse than men, with female journalists and TV news presenters receiving roughly three times as much abuse as their male counterparts.
- Men were much more likely to troll public figures via social media. Three-quarters of the abuse received by prominent men, and over 60% of abuse received by women, was tweeted by men.
- Piers Morgan, Ricky Gervais and Katie Hopkins were three of the most likely celebrities to receive abuse.
The study was conducted using software co-developed by researchers from Demos and also academics from the University of Sussex.
The results mark the launch of a Demos report – Vox Digitas - investigating how the wealth of data on social media can increasingly be used to monitor trends in public attitudes.
Research Director for the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) at Demos, Carl Miller, who co-authored the report said:
“Receiving criticism has long been part and parcel of being in the public eye. But Twitter is providing newer, more direct ways, for the public to hurl abuse at celebrities and prominent personalities.
“We found that not only are men more often the target of this abuse, but are also more likely to be the ones behind the attacks.
“Social media is now an important part of social life and researching it is vital to understand the world that we now live in. It allows us to gather more evidence about society and politics than ever before, spot emerging problems, and, above all help us know what to do about them.
“Politicians need to fully understand a problem before they can solve it: CASM is currently developing this field - social media science - to make it an ethical and effective part of decision-making."
NOTES TO EDITORS
Full table of results can be downloaded from: http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Demos_twittercelebrities_data.xlsx
Tweets judged as being ‘sent to’ public figures include those that contain the @username of the public figure in question.
Demos categorised tweets as offensive if they contained one or more of the abusive words included in Google’s search language filter: https://gist.github.com/jamiew/1112488
The report, Vox Digitas, is published by Demos on Sunday 24 August 2014. The full report can be downloaded from: http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/voxdigitas
For further interview or comment with author please contact Rob Macpherson.
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