Social media is different for girls

I retweeted a post by Common Space editor Angela Haggerty last night. If you’re not familiar with the social network Twitter, retweeting is when you copy somebody’s message so that the people who follow you on Twitter can see it.

As part of a thread on Twitter’s toxic abuse problem, Haggerty wrote:

Social media abuse is probably doing more long term harm to young women/girls, and they don’t have a voice in media. Some of the stories I’ve heard are frightening and I don’t think I could have coped with it as a teen. As adults we have a huge responsibility to fight this.

This isn’t remotely surprising to anybody who’s been paying attention. Social media can be toxic, and it can be especially toxic for young women – even more so if those women are from any minority group.

So naturally a complete stranger charged into my Twitter mentions to post widely-debunked Men’s Rights Activist nonsense: women are really the villains, men get more online abuse, lesbians are wife-beaters and so on.

I’ll spare you the ins and outs of my replies – executive summary: there’s tons of data that shows the significant difference in what men and women experience online; men are more likely to be told to piss off or called a cockwomble while women are more likely to be threatened with sexual violence – and present an anecdote instead.

I’ve been using social media since 1994*. I’ve been a journalist since 1998. And I didn’t come out online as trans until 2017.

That means I was a guy on social media for 23 years and a male journalist with publicly available social media and email for 19 years.

During that period, lots of people called me names and told me to fuck off. Some people made a hobby of it.

But the total amount of actual abuse I experienced in total over 19 years is less than many women experience in one day.

* CompuServe forums FTW! <g>