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‘Gender trolling’ is curbing women’s rights – and making money for digital platforms

Listening to the resignation speech of Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon this week, it was impossible not to think of the all-too similar words from former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern just a few weeks earlier.

Politicians are humans, too, as Sturgeon and Ardern reminded us, but the abuse women face online – greater and more vicious than that faced by male politicians – seem to dehumanise them, leaving some to wonder if the problem is a reflection of millennia-old misogyny, or an issue with technology.

Monetizing Misogyny, the study released this week by #ShePersisted, is the result of more than two years of research into the patterns and motives of gendered disinformation in several countries. It provides new insights into this question as well as a clear answer: the problem lies less in the misogyny per se than in its weaponisation by dark actors – and monetisation by digital platforms.

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