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UK pollies sent 188,000 abusive tweets

Press Association logoPress Association 25/05/2017

The anonymous and 'safe distance' nature of social media is being blamed for British MPs receiving nearly 190,000 abusive tweets in a three month period last year.

The research on Twitter communcation sent to UK MPs covered the period from May to August last year and found one in 20 tweets were abusive, with almost two thirds coming from accounts registered to men.

The abuse peaked on the day of the EU referendum result, June 24, and the day Boris Johnson pulled out of the Conservative leadership race on June 30, the research by BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT and the independent think tank Demos found.

#Brexit was the most commonly occurring hashtag in abusive tweets, while #BorisJohnson and #VoteLeave ranked second and third.

Party leaders, deputy leaders and prominent campaigners in the EU referendum were among the most frequently abused MPs, according to the research.

The analysis also found that 34 per cent of the abuse was "unqualified", as the tweets did not contain any additional information about why the abuse was sent.

The report blamed the "anonymous and 'safe distance' nature of social media platforms" for allowing "abuse to be handed out far less respectfully than it would usually be if delivered face-to-face".

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