Analysis shows: Five percent toxic comments on social media

A new analysis of the Swedish Defense Research Agency, FOI, shows that approximately five percent of the comments on Swedish-language social media contain toxic language.

The survey was commissioned by the government, which wanted FOI to analyze threats and hatred against women in Swedish digital environments. This led to two different studies where one looks at the prevalence of toxic language in Swedish-language social media and one at the gender differences and what kind of comments are directed at whom.

By “toxic language” is meant acts of communication such as incitement against an ethnic group, slander or abuse of an official, derogatory remarks, violation of integrity and disrespect.

As a basis, the researchers have analyzed approximately seven million commentators collected from a selection of the largest Swedish-language social media over a period of one year.

– Our survey shows that approximately five percent of the comments on Swedish social media contain toxic language. It is primarily individuals who become targets for toxic language, but conversations about politicians, political systems and social institutions also seem to have a tendency to become toxic, says Lisa Kaati, research leader and project manager for the assignment in a press release.

Men and women should be exposed to an equal number of toxic comments. Men are more exposed to comments that contain threats, ideas of violence and punishment. Toxic comments directed at women are more about appearance, mental health and morality.

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