Election Analysis and Hate Speech

Social media can make it easier for us to stay connected, but the online world works differently to the offline one, and strong opinions can get amplified. As part of the Political Futures Tracker project with Nesta, we studied how different politicians and political candidates talked about different topics on Twitter, and the reactions of the public to these messages, in the runup to the 2015 and 2017 UK general elections, and also in the runup to the UK EU membership referendum (Brexit).

Social media also make it easier to vent frustration at politicians or bully public figures anonymously. To quantify how widespread this is, we have been tracking abusive language in tweets to UK MPs for the last three general elections, as well as the EU referendum and the early COVID-19 pandemic. We found that there are different kinds of abuse, and that current events have a big impact on what people feel strongly about. Peer-reviewed publications can be found on the publications page.

News articles that have featured this work include this one, from 2018, this one, from August 2019, when hostility towards MPs reached a high, and this one, in conjunction with the 2019 general election.

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