Tweetment Effects on the Tweeted: Experimentally Reducing Racist Harassment
- 11k Downloads
I conduct an experiment which examines the impact of group norm promotion and social sanctioning on racist online harassment. Racist online harassment de-mobilizes the minorities it targets, and the open, unopposed expression of racism in a public forum can legitimize racist viewpoints and prime ethnocentrism. I employ an intervention designed to reduce the use of anti-black racist slurs by white men on Twitter. I collect a sample of Twitter users who have harassed other users and use accounts I control (“bots”) to sanction the harassers. By varying the identity of the bots between in-group (white man) and out-group (black man) and by varying the number of Twitter followers each bot has, I find that subjects who were sanctioned by a high-follower white male significantly reduced their use of a racist slur. This paper extends findings from lab experiments to a naturalistic setting using an objective, behavioral outcome measure and a continuous 2-month data collection period. This represents an advance in the study of prejudiced behavior.
KeywordsOnline harassment Social media Randomized field experiment Social identity
I would like to thank Chris Dawes, Neal Beck, Eric Dickson, James Hodgdon Bisbee, David Broockman, Livio Di Lonardo, Ryan Enos and Drew Dimmery, along with three anonymous reviewers; participants at the 2015 Summer Methods Meeting, the Harvard Experimental Political Science Graduate Student Conference, Neal's Seminar, the Yale ISPS Experiments Workshop and the NYU Graduate Political Economy Seminar; and members of the NYU Social Media and Political Participation (SMaPP) Lab, for their valuable feedback on earlier versions of this project.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he had no conflicts of interest with respect to his authorship or the publication of this article.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the New York University Institutional Review Board.
- Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Banks, A. J. (2016). Are group cues necessary? How anger makes ethnocentrism among whites a stronger predictor of racial and immigration policy opinions. Political Behavior, 1–23.Google Scholar
- Binder, J., Zagefka, H., Brown, R., Funke, F., Kessler, T., Mummendey, A., et al. (2009). Does contact reduce prejudice or does prejudice reduce contact? A longitudinal test of the contact hypothesis among majority and minority groups in three European countries. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(4), 843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Chen, Y., Zhou, Y., Zhu, S., & Xu, H. (2012). Detecting offensive language in social media to protect adolescent online safety. In Privacy, Security, Risk and Trust (PASSAT), 2012 International Conference on and 2012 International Confernece on Social Computing (SocialCom). IEEE pp. 71–80.Google Scholar
- Chhibber, P., & Sekhon, J. S. (2014). The asymmetric role of religious appeals in India.Google Scholar
- Coppock, A., Guess, A., & Ternovski, J. (2015). When treatments are tweets: A network mobilization experiment over twitter. Political Behavior, 1–24.Google Scholar
- Henson, B., Reyns, B. W., & Fisher, B. S. (2013). Fear of crime online? Examining the effect of risk, previous victimization, and exposure on fear of online interpersonal victimization. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice.Google Scholar
- Hosseinmardi, H., Rafiq, R. I., Li, S., Yang, Z., Han, R., Mishra, S., & Lv, Q. (2014). A comparison of common users across instagram and ask. fm to better understand cyberbullying. arXiv preprintarXiv:1408.4882 .Google Scholar
- Kennedy, M. A., & Taylor, M. A. (2010). Online harassment and victimization of college students. Justice Policy Journal, 7(1), 1–21.Google Scholar
- Mantilla, K. (2013). Gendertrolling: Misogyny adapts to new media. Feminist Studies, 39(2), 563–570.Google Scholar
- Moor, P. J. (2007). Conforming to the flaming norm in the online commenting situation.Google Scholar
- Omernick, E., & Sood, S. O. (2013). The impact of anonymity in online communities. In Social Computing (SocialCom), 2013 International Conference on. IEEE pp. 526–535.Google Scholar
- Sherif, M., & Sherif, C. W. (1953). Groups in harmony and tension; an integration of studies of intergroup relations.Google Scholar
- Sood, S., Antin, J., & Churchill, E. (2012). Profanity use in online communities. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM pp. 1481–1490.Google Scholar
- Stringhini, G., Egele, M., Kruegel, C., & Vigna, G. (2012). Poultry markets: On the underground economy of twitter followers. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM workshop on Workshop on online social networks. ACM pp. 1–6.Google Scholar
- Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, 33(47), 74.Google Scholar
- Xu, Z., & Zhu, S. (2010). Filtering offensive language in online communities using grammatical relations. Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Collaboration, Electronic Messaging, Anti-Abuse and Spam Conference.Google Scholar
- Yin, D., Xue, Z., Hong, L., Davison, B. D., Kontostathis, A., & Edwards, L. (2009). Detection of harassment on web 2.0. Proceedings of the Content Analysis in the WEB 2.Google Scholar