Twitter has become playground for trolls, finds Sunderland study

Dr Angela Smith
Dr Angela Smith
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A NEW study from Sunderland University academics looks at how Twitter has become a playground for trolls.

The social media site has become a “fertile environment for abuse” says Dr Angela Smith, reader in language and culture at the University of Sunderland, and Dr Michael Higgins, from the University of Strathclyde, in their report.

The research looks at how MPs have joined social media to promote their beliefs, only to be met by abuse. It revealed that almost 70 per cent of UK MPs have Twitter accounts.

Comments when Labour leader Ed Miliband joined instagram recently included “you incompetent clown”.

Dr Smith said: “Twitter and other forms of social media allow people to interact and engage with one another in potentially useful and productive ways.

“Individuals and groups can use Twitter to reach large numbers of people and get their messages across, without having the filter of traditional media, such as the press and broadcasters.

“This is very useful for politicians, who can use the 140-character restrictions of Twitter to offer succinct summaries of their thoughts and policies.

“However, the uncensored nature of Twitter also leaves anyone open to abuse from those who often regard Twitter as a space in which to antagonise and provoke argument.”