Online Abuse is Increasing and Women are Bearing the Brunt, Moderate Reports

New research carried out by Moderate, an AI tool that helps influencers, celebrities, and journalists protect themselves from online trolls, has revealed that despite the efforts of social media platforms, online abuse is on the increase. Using data collected from 3 million social media mentions across 2,000 users – including celebrities, sports people, journalists, musicians, British MPs, public health experts, and Premier league footballers – Moderate researchers found that toxic online behaviour is becoming increasingly prevalent in all areas. And that women are being targeted more frequently than men.

In fact, women are 20% more likely to receive toxic comments than men, regardless of their occupation. And in sports, women receive more than double the amount of abusive comments than men. 6.4% of the comments directed at female sports stars were abusive, versus just 3% for their male counterparts. And of all the occupations studied, Premier League football players were the least likely to receive inappropriate comments. Of the 2.5% of abuse directed at Premier League players, 80% of it was targeted at minorities, 0.04% of all mentions received were overtly racist.

Overall, at 7.32% of interactions, British MPs, both male (7%) and female (7.9%), are the recipients of the greatest percentage of toxic comments online. Followed closely behind by journalists (male 7.4%, female 6.2%), and celebrities, including reality TV stars (6.1%).

Category

Percentage of toxic comments

British MPs

7.32

Journalists

7.06

Scientists

5.87

Celebrities and reality TV Stars

5.58

Sports people

5.32

Public health experts

4.58

Musicians

3.69

Premier League players

2.5

Moderate also detected a correlation between the number of followers a person has and the amount of abuse they receive. Twitter users with more than 10,000 followers receive 3.9 times more toxic comments than users with less than 10,000. And this increases incrementally for users with 100,000 followers (3.6 times more abuse), and 1,000,000+ followers (4.5 times more toxic comments).

Ali Tehrani, founder of Astroscreen, the company behind Moderate, comments: ‘There has been a real move on the part of social media brands to find a way to prevent the most toxic of content appearing online, but without infringing on freedom of speech, they have very little recourse. Users can be banned and accounts blocked, but that only happens in the most extreme cases. And this means that people feel free to post the most poisonous comments without any comeback. And instances of this are clearly increasing.

‘The creation of tools, like Moderate, that put the control back into individual user’s hands is currently the best solution for managing online abuse. Allowing for freedom of speech, while ensuring that no one has to see or hear content designed to be offensive.’

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