A new report by human rights researchers is shining a light on a problem many Black women know all too well: online harassment.
According to a study conducted by Amnesty International and Element AI, female journalists and politicians on Twitter face far more abusive tweets than their male counterparts. And for women of color, the amount of harassment is exponentially worse.
Through its Troll Patrol project, Amnesty International found that while women of color were 34% more likely to encounter harassment, “Black women were disproportionately targeted,” and were “84% more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets.”
The Troll Patrol project examined 288,000 tweets that were sent to 778 female politicians and journalists in the U.S and U.K. in 2017. The result, many women of color no longer feel comfortable or safe sharing their viewpoints on Twitter because of the backlash they face.
“Twitter’s failure to crack down on this problem means it is contributing to the silencing of already marginalized voices,” Milena Marin, a senior research adviser at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) December 18, 2018
Marin also said the recent findings support what women on Twitter have been saying all along.
“Troll Patrol means 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,” she said.
While Twitter has banned some high-profile racists like “Unite the Right” rally founder, Gavin McInnes, and former Breitbart provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos, they have yet to truly take the concerns of women of color seriously, as Amnesty International noted in its report.
“Amnesty International has repeatedly asked Twitter to make available meaningful and comprehensive data regarding the scale and nature of abuse on their platform, as well as how they are addressing it,” the group said.
“Such data will be invaluable for anyone seeking to understand and combat this barrier to women’s human rights online,” Amnesty International said. “In light of Twitter’s refusal to do so, it is our hope that this project will shed some insight into the scale of the problem.”