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Shocking extent of misogyny on social media is revealed in new study

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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In today's ever-connected digital world, it is all too easy for bullies to target their victims. And new research released today has revealed the shocking extent to which women on Twitter are regularly targeted by misogynistic bullying.

The research, which monitored how many times the words "slut" and "whore" were written in tweets, uncovered 10,000 misogynistic messages sent to 6,500 people in the UK in just three weeks.

And when the search was extended to worldwide users, over 200,000 misogynistic and aggressive tweets were found to have been sent to some 80,000 people - with over half of the messages being written by women themselves.

More than half of misygonistic tweets were sent by women

More than half of misygonistic tweets were sent by women

The research, conducted by Demos, also found that female celebrities were targeted the most by bullies, with Azealia Banks, Katie Hopkins, Hillary Clinton and online gamer LegendaryLeaTV receiving the most misogynistic tweets.

And the shocking results of the research reveal only a sample of the problem, with Alex Krasodomski-Jones, a researcher at Demos, warning that misogynistic bullying is not just constrained to Twitter.

"While we have focused on Twitter, who are considerably more generous in sharing their data with us, it’s important to note misogyny is prevalent across all social media," he told The Guardian

"This is a stark reminder that we are frequently not as good citizens online as we are offline."

Hillary Clinton has been a target for online abuse

Hillary Clinton has been a target for online abuse

The findings from the research, which was conducted between April and May of this year, have persuaded MPs to join forces to tackle the issue of misogynistic bullying on social media.

Labour's Yvette Cooper and Jess Phillips, alongside Tory Maria Miller and former Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson, have today launched an online forum called Reclaim The Internet to help open up the conversation on how we can reduce such cyber bullying in the UK.

The group are asking for victims, police, union members, employers and organisations to contribute ideas on how to reduce misogynistic bullying in key areas, including educating the next generation and the responsibility of social media platforms as publishers.

Yvette Cooper, who will be holding a Reclaim The Internet event in parliament today, told The Guardian she was inspired to launch the campaign by the "night movement" of the seventies, which saw women take to the streets to protest against violence, harassment and intimidation.

She said, "Today the internet is our streets and public spaces. Yet for some people online harassment, bullying, misogyny, racism or homophobia can end up poisoning the internet and stopping them from speaking out.

"Challenging online abuse can’t be done by any organisation alone … This needs everyone.”

Facebook has also backed the campaign, although the social media giant do not always remove misogynistic comments from the site.

Yvette Cooper will speak out against misogynistic cyber bullying in Parliament today

Yvette Cooper will speak out against misogynistic cyber bullying in Parliament today

You can contribute your ideas on the Reclaim the Internet forum here

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

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