Twitter, the quintessential platform for abuse against women?

Twitter, the quintessential platform for abuse against women?

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A new Amnesty International study shows the scale of threats to women on Twitter, calling the platform “toxic place” and “the world’s largest body of data on online abuse of women”.

This survey was carried out by the group ‘Troll Patrol’ made up of 6,500 volunteers from over 150 countries. They have helped Amnesty analyze millions of tweets received by 778 American and British journalists and politicians throughout 2017. These relate specifically to the threats faced by certain racial and ethnic groups as well as their political affiliations. .

An abusive tweet every 30 seconds

” The study revealed the extent of abuse that women face on these same platforms, with 1.1 million abusive or problematic tweets sent to the 778 women included in the data set during the year, i.e. one every 30 seconds on average, ‘says the Amnesty report.

Abusive tweets are defined as those violating Twitter rules (including for example physical or sexual threats), while problematic tweets transmit ‘hostile’ content, ‘reinforcing negative or harmful stereotypes against a group of individuals’.

In addition, the results show that black women are particularly targeted on Twitter, with an 84% greater chance than white women of being the victims of such tweets. Women of color are also more likely to be targeted.

Twitter is ostrich?

Twitter Twitter’s failure to address this problem means that it is helping to silence already marginalized voices, ’said Milena Marin, senior tactical research advisor at Amnesty International, in a statement.

Evidenced by the bad experience on the social network of the activist for Anglo-Nigerian women Seyi Akiwowo. In 2017, she received a real wave of threats following a video posted on the social network. But Twitter does not respond to its abuse reports. ‘I was called by the word” n “[[nigger], and its variants, and Twitter’s algorithms simply couldn’t keep up with the abuse I’m undergoing, ”she told the magazine. Time. Akiwowo then founded Glitch, a non-profit campaign to end online abuse.

Women journalists and politicians

Besides harassing women of color, the study also found that women journalists and politicians from all ideological points of view are also targets of abuse.

A controversy that was raised with us this week, after a controversial tweet from Georges-Louis Bouchez which caused a wave of abuse on the account of an RTBF journalist. After being verbally abused, Sofia Cotsoglou first put her account in private and then deleted it altogether. ‘Women leave Twitter one after the other and are silenced by anonymous accounts that harass them. The fact that a party president is throwing one of them into the ground really questions me. Aren’t there other ways of disagreeing? ” Protested Brussels MP Ecolo Margaux De Ré.

The tip of the iceberg?

The million abusive tweets could also be just the tip of the iceberg. Because this study does not include those who were deleted or from suspended or deactivated accounts in 2017. The scale of these abuses and threats could therefore be even more serious than what the results indicate.

As for Twitter, the social network ‘has failed to provide specific data on the extent of abuse on the platform, as well as to describe what is being done to tackle the problem,’ deplores the NGO for the defense of human rights.

In a response to Time, global chief legal officer for Twitter Vijaya Gadde said, however, that the company ‘is working hard to establish globally applicable rules and have started consulting the public as part of the process – a new approach within the industry ‘.

In its semi-annual transparency report released last week, Twitter said that in the first six months of 2018, more than 2.8 million accounts were the subject of complaints of abuse. Actions have been taken for nearly 250,000 of these accounts.

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