Use of “Slut” and “Whore” on Twitter [...]

Researchers found that the use of the words “slut” and “whore” on Twitter we’re used 50% of the time by women. But there are reasons why this does not support the headline given it (“50% of trolls are women”)

Researchers tracked the words “slut” and “whore” on social media site Twitter over a three-week period and found that 10 000 messages contained the slurs in Britain alone.

Worldwide, 50 percent of the 213 000 aggressive tweets containing these insults were sent by women, with 40 percent sent by men. The rest were sent by users or groups whose gender could not be classified. (Source)

So why is this not evidence of troll percentages? The biggest reason is it is a Closed Vocabulary Analysis. By choosing these specific words to look for, researchers likely influenced the results.

It is possible, for example, that much misogyny on the internet does not use these words — and these words may simply be words that are more utilized by women.

Men, for example, often belittle women by making remarks that imply they have a psychological disorder (“Go back to shock treatment” etc.). They might also gravitate to other words, such a “bitch” etc. The closed vocabulary approach cannot catch these issues.


An alternative to closed vocab approaches is Open Vocabulary Analysis.

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