Twitter can be “very traumatic for women” 

200,000 tweets using the words “slut” and “whore” were sent in three weeks at the end of April 

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By Marisa Bate on

A new report from think tank Demos has shone a light on the nature of online abuse targeted at women. 

The study employed special natural language-filtering algorithms to monitor all tweets using “slut” and “whore” in an aggressive way. 

The results were startling. On UK Twitter alone, 6,500 users received 10,000 misogynistic and abusive tweets in a three week period at the end of last month. Internationally, 80,000 users received 200,000 tweets including the words “slut and whore” in the same time period. The study also found the fifty per cent of the abuse was sent by women. Researcher Alex Krasodomski-Jones said “This study provides a birds-eye snapshot of what is ultimately a very personal and often traumatic experience for women."

The research marks the launch of Reclaim the Internet, a cross-party campaign to tackle online abuse led by Yvette Cooper. Other MPs involved include Maria Miller, Jo Swinson, Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips.

Yvette Cooper has taken the name for the campaign from a movement against street harassment in the 1970s. She said “Forty years ago women took to the streets to challenge attitudes and demand action against harassment on the streets. Today the internet is our streets and public spaces.”

The campaign will ask contributors to suggest how the problem can be tackled. The group will focus on what more can be done regarding the role of the police and prosecutors, the role of organisations and employers, the responsibility of social media platforms and publishers and educating the next generation. 

The campaign follows extensive research carried out by the Guardian earlier this year in which they monitored the abuse on their own site and found that of the top ten most abused journalists, eight were women and two were black men. 

Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn has come out in support of Cooper’s campaign. Speaking to the Today program this morning, she 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.” The social media platform has been criticised for not taking down misogynist posts. 



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