Have you been targeted by hostile trolls on Twitter? You’re not alone, and if you’re a female politician or journalist the odds are you’ve already encountered the experience plenty of times.
A study of 288,000 tweets sent to 778 such women in 2017 demonstrated a pattern of abuse that’s especially challenging for black women, Latinas and other women of color. The study conducted by Amnesty International and Element AI, a global artificial intelligence software company, determined that 7.1 percent of the tweets were abusive and, based on the data, there was a problematic tweet sent to the women once every 30 seconds.
The “Troll Patrol” project relied on 6,500 volunteers from 150 countries who helped to collect and evaluate the Twitter messages.
“With the help of technical experts and thousands of volunteers, we have built the world’s largest crowdsourced dataset about online abuse against women. Troll Patrol means we have the data to back up what women have long been telling us – that Twitter is a place where racism, misogyny and homophobia are allowed to flourish basically unchecked,” said Milena Marin, Senior Advisor for Tactical Research at Amnesty International.
“We found that, although abuse is targeted at women across the political spectrum, women of color were much more likely to be impacted, and black women are disproportionately targeted. Twitter’s failure to crack down on this problem means it is contributing to the silencing of already marginalized voices.”
The analysis was specific to the group of women in the study and would likely differ if applied to other professions, countries beyond the United States or UK, or the wider population, Amnesty said.