Research finds way to curb racist tweets

Weblog: Study in wake of US election involved four types of Twitter ‘bots’ replying to racist tweets

Researcher Kevin Munger looked at anti-black racist slurs by white men on Twitter

Researcher Kevin Munger looked at anti-black racist slurs by white men on Twitter

 

The last week or so has not been good for social media; it has variously been described as an echo chamber in which we cosy up to like-minded individuals, never straying outside our comfort zone, and a warzone in which hate festers and spreads like a disease.

However, a study by researcher Kevin Munger from New York University’s department of politics sheds some light on how racist harassment occurs on Twitter and how it may be curbed.

Specifically, Munger looked at anti-black racist slurs by white men on Twitter and how these white men responded to being reprimanded.

He created four different types of Twitter “bots”: a white/black man with a low/high number of followers, and these bots began responding to the racist tweets, saying it was unacceptable behaviour.

The result was that these white men significantly reduced their number of racist tweets – but only if the bot reprimanding them appeared to be a white man with many followers. While these results are disappointing, it is also an opportunity to inform social media design to rid it of hate speech.

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