Abusive behavior toward women on social media is in the spotlight once again courtesy of a new study on misogyny on Twitter.
The research, conducted by U.K. think tank Demos, scoured tweets on the social network both in Britain and throughout the world. Its findings revealed some startling, and surprising, results in regards to the rampant misogyny on Twitter. Women are just as responsible for it as men.
The study monitored the use of specific words in tweets, including abusive terms such as ‘slut’ and ‘whore.’ During a three-week period, Demos found that 6,500 Twitter users were targeted by 10,000 explicitly aggressive tweets in the U.K. alone. Meanwhile, internationally, over 200,000 misogynist tweets using the same terms were sent to 80,000 people within that period.
The results, however, showed that 50 percent of the accounts responsible for the abuse belonged to women.
Demos claims that it used sophisticated algorithms to mine the data. The think tank separated tweets that were highlighted as explicitly aggressive towards individuals, from those that were more topical or conversational in tone. The latter included posts that protested against “slut shaming” and discussed “slut walks,” for example.
“It is clear that just as the digital world has created new opportunities for public debate and social interaction, it has also built new battlegrounds for the worst aspects of human behavior,” said Alex Krasodomski-Jones, researcher in the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos. “This study provides a birds-eye snapshot of what is ultimately a very personal and often traumatic experience for women.”
Demos states that it focused on Twitter due to its transparency when it comes to data, adding that misogyny is “prevalent across all social media.”
The findings from the study were also presented at the U.K. parliament by a group of female MPs, as part of the “Reclaim the Internet” cross-party campaign into social media participation for women.