For 40 years, Star Wars fans have been incredibly passionate about the galaxy far, far away, which unfortunately can turn into harassment when that passion is misguided. A new study from the Washington Post studied thousands of Star Wars posts on Twitter and determined that female fans are subjected to more harassment than male fans, with Loan (formerly Kelly) Marie Tran and her character Rose Tico receiving 60 percent more hate speech than posts related to the whole franchise.
The study "examined tweets for positive or negative attitudes, 'offensive language'' (profanity and belligerence), and 'hate speech,' which includes ethnic, misogynistic, and homophobic slurs, as well as threats of violence." The report noted that the "algorithm also classifies extreme slurs against political and ideological groups as hate speech."
When it came to combing through Twitter for tweets using "Star Wars" or "The Last Jedi," six percent of these posts also included offensive language. However, this doesn't necessarily mean all of these tweets were negative in nature. As far as hate speech, that accounted for closer to one percent of posts.
Understandably, posts including the keywords which used either offensive language or hate speech came from accounts with fewer followers and also garnered fewer likes, retweets, or replies. The study also used tools to sweep through the collected data to remove likely bots from the equation.
When it came to determining whether male or female fans received more harassment, the study looked at 37 fan accounts run by men and 26 fan accounts run by women. While both male and female accounts received the same amount of replies using offensive language, between eight and nine percent, there was a large difference when it came to hate speech. Male-identifying accounts received hate speech in roughly one out of 450 tweets, while roughly one out of every 280 messages towards female-identifying accounts used hate speech. This isn't to say that the accounts themselves were the targets of the hate speech so much as users more freely used hate speech, in any context, when directed at women.
Studying the data collected in regards to keywords "Kelly Marie Tran" or "Rose Tico" resulted in 12 percent of all tweets using offensive language. When accounting for hate speech, slurs are used more regularly to describe the actress or her character than used when discussing the rest of the franchise.
One likely explanation for the data collected from the study is that, from the anonymity of social media, users were more likely to use offensive language and hate speech than in other forums. Additionally, this data only accounts for the discussion on Twitter and not on Facebook, Instagram, or the real world, and also didn't delineate between who is a "fan" of the franchise and who was merely posting messages about it.
Does this data surprise you? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!
[H/T Washington Post]