Exposure to Marginally Abusive Content on Twitter

Proceedings of the Seventeenth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM 2023), Forthcoming

10 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2022

See all articles by Jack Bandy

Jack Bandy

Northwestern University

Tomo Lazovich

Northeastern University

Date Written: July 28, 2022


Social media platforms can help people find connection and entertainment, but they can also show potentially abusive content such as insults and targeted cursing. While platforms do remove some abusive content for rule violation, some is considered "margin content" that does not violate any rules and thus stays on the platform. This paper presents a focused analysis of exposure to such content on Twitter, asking (RQ1) how exposure to marginally abusive content varies across Twitter users, and (RQ2) how algorithmically-ranked timelines impact exposure to marginally abusive content. Based on one month of impression data from November 2021, descriptive analyses (RQ1) show significant variation in exposure, with more active users experiencing higher rates and higher volumes of marginal impressions. Experimental analyses (RQ2) show that users with algorithmically-ranked timelines experience slightly lower rates of marginal impressions. However, they tend to register more total impression activity and thus experience a higher cumulative volume of marginal impressions. The paper concludes by discussing implications of the observed concentration, the multifaceted impact of algorithmically-ranked timelines, and potential directions for future work.

Keywords: social media, twitter, platforms, margin content, algorithm auditing, algorithmic feeds, timelines

Suggested Citation

Bandy, Jack and Lazovich, Tomo, Exposure to Marginally Abusive Content on Twitter (July 28, 2022). Proceedings of the Seventeenth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM 2023), Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4175612 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4175612

Jack Bandy (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Tomo Lazovich

Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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