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Study Finds Women Are Behind 50% Of All Misogynistic Tweets

Photo: Kate Anglestein
If the fourth wave feminist didn't tweet about it, is it still a feminist comment? In all seriousness, thanks be to Twitter. Modern feminism would not be as prevalent if it weren't for a) brave women being vocal on Twitter and b) women taking down the mindless trolls spouting anti-feminist crap, and, in turn, further spreading the messages of feminism in all its myriad forms. After The Guardian launched a campaign called The Web We Want, it was discovered that of the top 10 most abused accounts on Twitter, eight were women and two were black men.

Disturbing news, then, this morning that half of the authors of what we'd class misogynistic tweets are actually penned by women. The investigation was carried out by think tank Demos and coincides with the launch of Reclaim The Internet, a political consultation about the worrying levels of misogyny on social media and online.

Spearheaded by Labour's Yvette Cooper and Jess Phillips, former Tory minister Maria Miller and former Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson, the body is looking to launch a cross-party campaign to take down online women-bashing trolls. Quoted in The Guardian, Yvette Cooper outlined why online sexism is a focus for her: "We have responsibilities as online citizens to make sure the internet is a safe space. Challenging online abuse can’t be done by any organisation alone… This needs everyone.”

Demos, meanwhile, chartered the use of the words "whore" and "slut" on Twitter over a three-week period at the end of April. A staggering 6,500 UK users have faced abuse from 10,000 menacing tweets (Demos used algorithms to ascertain when tweets were being aggressive as opposed to conversational). They found the most targeted accounts belonged to celebrities with American rapper Azealia Banks, British TV personality and columnist, Katie Hopkins, and, Hillary Clinton being the handles that most frequently received tweets including these words.

While Twitter has been open with data sharing, Facebook has been less transparent. According to The Guardian, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “I’m aware of the work that Yvette Cooper is spearheading today. I’m very supportive of it. We do a lot of work in this area already, working with organisations like Women’s Aid, and there is absolutely no place on Facebook for anything like that.”

Cooper explained that Reclaim the Internet had been inspired by the Reclaim The Night movement of the '70s, where women took to the streets to protest violence against women. In 2016, the internet has become another, almost palpable universe which we walk through each day. Evidently, more policing online has never been more urgent, but with social media channels largely remaining unregulated and with each of our online handles functioning to some extent as a pseudonym, accountability seems an applaudable if somewhat unattainable goal until the web's landscape alters signifigantly.