Who Gets Canceled? Twitter Responses to Gender-Based Violence Allegations

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Psychology of Violence

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Objective: Allegations of gender-based violence (GBV) on social media have sparked fears of being “canceled” (i.e., publicly shamed) over such allegations. However, not all alleged perpetrators of GBV are seen equally. We examined changes in social media discussions of alleged perpetrators of GBV over time and whether these discussions would differ based on characteristics of the accuser (age) and the accused (race, fame). Method: We analyzed the sentiment of a large sample of tweets (N = 182,456) about a sample of GBV allegations (N = 120) using sentiment analysis software (i.e., linguistic inquiry and word count; LIWC). Using multilevel regression, we assessed changes in tweet positive and negative emotion words over time. We also assessed differences in these outcomes based on the age of the accuser and the race and fame of the accused. Results: Tweets about White and Black alleged perpetrators of GBV included more positive emotion over time. Additionally, tweets discussing Black (vs. White) alleged perpetrators were less positive while tweets discussing non-Black alleged perpetrators of color (vs. White) were more positive. Tweets discussing face famous (i.e., recognizable to those who consume their work; vs. nonface famous) alleged perpetrators were discussed with higher levels of both positive and negative emotion. Conclusions: This work implies that “cancellation” is not equally distributed and that emotional responses to GBV may be more mixed and temporary than many fear.


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