Love them or loath them, I think anybody who has been on the internet for longer than 5-minutes can sympathise with MPs speaking out about the abuse MPs receive online. But to what extent is this abuse actually happening?
The anecdotal reports seem to suggest the problems are rampant, and every other message to MPs contains some sort of abusive statement or even threats to kill.
This research conducted by myself and Stephen Ward seeks to cut through the media perceptions and into facts. Ultimately, we find that rates of abuse of MPs on Twitter are around 2.57%. This was through an analysis of a dataset of 270,717 tweets.
Ultimately, while this is a significant problem, our results place a level of context to the issue. This is a similar rate to that found in a later study by a team at Sheffield. We also contribute other findings in regards to the types of abuse MPs receive, and what triggers these abusive messages.
It’s worth a read. And I won’t lie, the title gave us a little chuckle for a very serious problem. And a chuckle I needed – after going through all the abusive messages and coding them myself – I can certainly empathise a lot better with what MPs, their staff, and even content moderators have to endure.
You can read the paper online now if you have institutional access to The Journal of Legislative Studies here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13572334.2020.1730502