Study: Female politicians, journalists abused every 30 seconds on Twitter

A new study found that female politicians and journalists were the subject of "problematic" or "abusive" tweets in the social media platform every 30 seconds in 2017.

Researchers from human rights watchdog Amnesty International and Element AI, an intelligence software start-up, sorted through thousands of tweets regarding 778 female politicians and journalists in the U.K. and U.S. in 2017.

The study said that an estimated 7.1 percent of tweets sent to these women were abusive or problematic, amounting to  1.1 million tweets, or one every 30 seconds.


The list included female politicians in the U.K. Parliament and U.S. Congress as well as women journalists at the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Breitbart and The New York Times.

The study did not include tweets aimed at or targeting men.

Women of color were disproportionally targeted on Twitter and were 34 percent more likely to be mentioned in an abusive or problematic tweet than white women.

Black women are 84 percent more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive tweets, according to the study.

Amnesty International said in a statement that it has repeatedly asked Twitter to release "meaningful and comprehensive" data regarding the scale and nature of abuse on the platform, as well as steps to address it. 

“We found that, although abuse is targeted at women across the political spectrum, women of colour were much more likely to be impacted, and black women are disproportionately targeted,” said Milena Marin, senior advisor for tactical research at Amnesty International. “Twitter’s failure to crack down on this problem means it is contributing to the silencing of already marginalized voices.”

Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Hill.

The study used 6,500 volunteers from 150 countries to join the “Troll Patrol,” the world's largest crowd-sourced dataset of online abuse against women.

Multiple volunteers evaluated each tweet for either abusive or problematic content.

Abusive content violates Twitter’s own rules by promoting sexual or physical violence or threatening users based on factors such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender.

Problematic content is defined as “hurtful or hostile” but is not as intense as an abusive tweet.