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Abusive tweets to MPs on the rise, study shows

1 min read

An analysis of more than one million tweets has revealed that abusive tweets about politicians more than doubled between 2015 and 2017.

The research, which was carried out by Sheffield University's computer science department, revealed that Twitter insults targeting politicians rose from around 10,000 during the 2015 general election, to just under 25,000 in the 2017 snap election.

It was also revealed that although high-profile politicians received a high volume of abuse online, less well-known MPs received proportionally more.

The study showed that abusive tweets made up 6.6 per cent of Boris Johnson’s Twitter timeline in 2015, rising to 9.3 per cent in 2017. Jeremy Hunt experienced 4.6 per cent in 2015, which rose to 8.6 per cent last year.

Nearly 600 of the UK’s 650 MPs currently have a Twitter account.

In response to the research, Cabinet Officer minister Chloe Smith said: “It is vital that we prevent the rising intimidation of people in public office and those who want to stand for election.

"That is why this government is consulting on new measures that will protect candidates and campaigners standing for public service. We can't let intimidation of people in public life continue unchecked."

Last year, a report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life expressed concern that people would be put off from entering politics because of an “intensely hostile online environment”.

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