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Amnesty International Study Exposes the Extent of Women's Twitter Abuse

One News Page Staff Thursday, 20 December 2018
Amnesty International Study Exposes the Extent of Women's Twitter Abuseby 👨‍💻 Simon Baxendale

Social media can, for better or for worse, offer a simple and speedy way for millions of people to connect with one another from day to day. However, as networks such as Twitter have expanded over the years, there have been increasing concerns over the level of abusive messages certain users have been receiving. While Twitter has pledged to crack down on bullying and harassment on its platform, Amnesty International requested that there be more transparency with regard to just how much average users face.

The organization has taken to conducting a study in partnership with Element AI in order to grasp some of the numbers involved behind the scenes. Specifically, in the study, the accounts of up to 778 different female journalists and politicians were analyzed – as volunteers willingly sifted through over 228,000 different tweets sent to said public figures over the course of a year. The figures, it appears, are rather dismaying.

It was discovered that, of the women studied, an abusive or otherwise problem tweet was sent to one of them every 30 seconds over the year. That’s a staggering statistic – and while Twitter have been clamping down on punishing those who openly use their platform to abuse others, Amnesty International have doubled down on their requests for greater clarity on the abuse problem the social channel is facing.

A new study found that women are harassed every 30 seconds on Twitter, and that sounds about right
A new study found that women are harassed every 30 seconds on Twitter, and that sounds about right [video]

“The report found that as a company, Twitter is failing in its responsibility to respect women’s rights online by failing to adequately investigate and respond to reports of violence and abuse in a transparent manner which leads many women to silence or censor themselves on the platform,” an AI statement read.

The data also found that up to 7% of tweets regarding female journalists were found to be problematic, with further worrying data showing that women of colour were far more likely to be targeted in such a way than white women. “By crowdsourcing research, we were able to build up vital evidence in a fraction of the time it would take one Amnesty researcher, without losing the human judgment which is so essential when looking at context around tweets,” Senior Advisor for Tactical Research, Milena Marin, advised on behalf of AI.

Twitter enables harassment, abuse of women, report says
Twitter enables harassment, abuse of women, report says [video]

While Twitter has ramped up its attempts to be more transparent and responsible for what is shared through its channels, it’s clear more work must be done.

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