A new study of what types of tweets people are sending shows that some of us have a mean streak: there are over 100,000 insulting, teasing, and otherwise nasty tweets sent on the network every week.
Bullying is a problem for many children on the school yard, and it’s crept into their digital worlds as well.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin in Madison created a computer program to analyse tweets for their content and sentiment in order to determine how many of them were bully-related.
The program identified certain keywords as being related to bullying, such as “kicked”, “called”, “mean” and “suicide”, and ranked them, along with emoticons, to automatically tag tweets as bully-related or not.
Using this method, the research team claims that over 15,000 bully-related tweets are sent every day, equaling more than 100,000 every week.
Of course, Twitter users send a lot of tweets. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo says that the network sees over 230 million tweets each and every day, which means that bully-related tweets only account for a fraction of one percent of the total.
Still, those being bullied can’t seem to escape their tormentors even on Twitter, and those 15,000 tweets surely pack quite the virtual punch to someone who is being persecuted.
Researchers say that they were able to identify the typical roles in a bullying encounter on Twitter, such as the bully, victim, accuser and defender, but that they also identified a new role: the reporter. This is a child who witnessed bullying but didn’t participate in any way. This raises questions of why children are not speaking up about bullying to adults in their lives, instead turning to 140-character observations.
You can read the full study here.
Are you surprised by the number of bully-related tweets on Twitter? Do you think more needs to be done to combat cyber-bullying? Let us know in the comments below.
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