Alarming Misogyny on Twitter

As part of our May 2020 campaign of stopping online Misogyny, this briefing looks at the proliferation of misogynistic content across Twitter. The platform’s ease of use has enabled misogynistic content to be highly accessible and shared.

The examples herein are egregious, with many promoting sexual and physical violence against women, in addition to espousing sentiments similar to the Cult of Domesticity.

Targeting Prominent Women

Many tweets attack prominent women, including news anchors, legislators and media personalities. The examples below are from the United States & Canada.

This tweet shows disparaging and harmful remarks about the U.S. Congressional Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). It reads: “I said it before and I say it again. Boomers hate AOC because they want to rape her.” After we reported the tweet the account became protected, meaning only its own followers can see this and other tweets.

Another tweet uses graphic and sexist language directed to Jeannane Pirro, a commentator on Fox News, over political differences. It reads: “Good morning world. Jeanne Pirro is a stupid, filthy cunt.” As with the above tweets, after we reported this tweet its account became protected.

Another tweet, encouraging sexual violence, is directed towards InvaderVie, a Canadian Twitch streamer embroiled in a minor controversy. It reads: “Okay so now I don’t want to rape her. I just want her to be REDACTED.” Despite being reported, and giving Twitter 10 days to take action, this tweet is still online.

U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is also targeted with sexist language. The following tweet reads: “Nancy you stupid Bitch, you sat on your fat ass for 10 days holding out for your bullshit agenda instead of helping American Citizens with small businesses. YOU SUCK!!! Do you have any idea how many people you hurt?? You should go home and die..” After we reported it, this tweet was removed.

Promoting Violence Against Women

Many tweets glorify and promote sexual and physical violence against women. The content is degrading, hypersexualized and dehumanizing.

This tweet promotes domestic violence. It reads: “shut the fuck up woman, go back to the kitchen before I beat you.” The tweet has an accompanying animated image of a woman being beaten, with blood coming out of her face and nose. Despite being reported, and giving Twitter 10 days to take action, this tweet is still online.

The following tweet promotes sexual aggression, and reads: “you’re obviously not getting it without my hand around your throat so listen here you fucking slut, i tell you when you can touch, you want to feel something?’ll feel your pathetic little cunt getting touched over n over until i feel that you’ve learned your lesson.” Despite being reported, and giving Twitter 10 days to take action, this tweet is still online.

Violence against women is also fantasized in this tweet depicting a cartoon image of a woman being brutally beaten. It has a simple caption of: “when i see women”. Following our report of this and other items from this account, which had a username of “@CarelessNigger”, the account was closed by Twitter.

A further tweet encourages sexual assault and is particularly disturbing. It reads: “Anywhere a Fulani woman is found igboland [Nigeria], she should be raped and the rapist will get palliatives from me. If Bello’s mother can be gang raped, the niggas get N1m from me as thank you, don’t mention gift. If she can be infected with STD especially HIV, I will double the gift.”

Another tweet encourages sexual violence, using a comedic tone: “taking a girl on a movie date only to rape her in the theatre and call her a disgusting whore for enjoying it.”

This tweet draws on very antiquated ideas of women and sympathizes with the treatment of women under ISIL and Adolf Hitler. It reads:”hate to say it but Hitler & ISIL have right idea some (not all) women are to be used in any way is chosen. A big mouth as she missed her calling she can make a fortune at the nearest fast food john’s, she can put her oral services to good use, still think ISIL’s method best”

Another shocking tweet encourages violent sexual assault. It reads: “Rape is one of the worst things that can happen to someone, and should never happen to anyone, but in this case, Gabriel Fernandez’s mom should be raped repeatedly with a knife, that is all.”

The last tweet shares more sexist sentiments, arguing that “…Women are cunts, think they’re hot shit and hoe around but say they’re finding themselves” [laughing emoji] when in reality they are ugly and aren’t shit. Half of them don’t even have a real job now adays and wanna gold dig”

This Needs to Stop

The above examples of online Misogyny are horrific to the extreme. Twitter, as a platform, is providing a medium for the publishing of these hateful and threatening comments. Our sample shows a largely ineffective response to user reporting. Either Twitter feels such content is acceptable, or there is a large gap between the rules the company it trying to enforce and what is happening is practice. We note the closure of the account @CarelessNigger, a positive development, but given the lack of response on other tweets it seem likely it was the account name rather than the advocacy of violence against woman which led to this closure. This suggests Twitter is focused on specific words, e.g. racial slurs, rather than the meaning of the message. This will give the appearance of improvement when AI approaches are used to monitor the platform, as they search for these same racial slurs, but it leave far more serious content as a hidden problem which such monitoring fails to find and which Twitter in turn is failing to effectively respond to.

We need real improvements to make online platforms safer, not simply tricks which improve the metrics. When users take the time to report content, it must be given a more serious response. These example are clear and the failure to uphold these reports demonstrates a failing by Twitter.

Please continue to report content to Twitter, but also let us know so we can monitor and take action where reports are not being properly handled. Join with us in raising awareness and asking Twitter to take a stronger stand in removing this expression of hatred by sharing this briefing on social media.

Osiris Parikh – OHPI Analyst based in U.S.A.

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This article is part of our May 2020 campaign to Stop Online Misogyny. We are currently running a fundraiser to expand our June 2020 campaign to tackle online Antisemitism. The full plan for our campaigns in 2020 can be seen here.