Not surprisingly in a political atmosphere in which the president of the United States feels comfortable tweeting that a Black woman has “an extraordinarily low IQ” or is “a loser,” a new study reveals that Black and Latinx women are targeted with abusive tweets more than any other demographic.
Yesterday (December 18), Amnesty International, which classifies online abuse against women as a human rights issue, launched an interactive website that provides the results of a crowdsourced study on how frequently women in the United States and United Kingdom are targeted on Twitter.
“We have built the world’s largest crowdsourced data set about online abuse against women,” Milena Marin, senior adviser for tactical research at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “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.”
The data shows Black women were 84 percent more likely than White women to be disproportionately targeted. One in ten tweets mentioning Black women was abusive or problematic, compared to one in 15 for White women. Women of color were 34 percent more likely to be targeted.
While Black women received more abusive tweets compared to White women, Latinx women are more likely to get threats of physical [violence]; Asian women faced more ethnic, racial and religious slurs; and mixed race women faced abuse across all categories including sexism, racism, physical and sexual threats, the study found.
The study, conducted in conjunction with artificial intelligence software company Element AI, found an abusive or problematic tweet was sent every 30 seconds.
An abusive tweet, according to Wired, promotes “violence against or threats to people based on their identification with a group, like race or gender, which violates Twitter’s [Terms of Service].” Problematic tweets contain hurtful or hostile content that does not necessarily meet the threshold of abuse.
Amnesty International sees the study as a jumping off point for the human rights organization to work with Twitter to help end these abuses. Amnesty has requested that Twitter publish data on the scale and nature of abuse on the social media platform, but to date the company has not complied with the request.
Said Marin, “Twitter’s failure to crack down on this problem means it is contributing to the silencing of already marginalized voices.”