An Analysis of Gender and Online Political Discussion

If you’re familiar with social media, then you’re familiar with the internet rage machine. The phenomenon of internet rage– or online political discussion as I will be calling it–works like this: It starts off with an innocent tweet or Facebook post about a political point of view or a current event. Depending on the political diversity of the author’s followers, an online political discussion will ensue. The social media post need not be incendiary, but the more partisan the post, the more rage the responses will contain.


To put it simply, the goal of my research is to determine whether political internet rage is equally distributed among men and women. In order to answer this question, I will be examining a large dataset of tweets from 2009.


I will be spending the first half of the summer sifting through this extensive twitter data. I want to restrict the tweets to those containing the hashtag #politics, and then restrict the data even further to only include tweets from users with usernames that include a first name. By comparing the first names in the usernames to California census data, I will sort the usernames by gender. By midway into the summer, my goal is to have a list of political tweets written by female authors and a list of tweets written by male authors.


The second half of the summer will be devoted to analyzing these tweets for agreeability. I want to analyze whether or not male or female writers are more likely to engage in online political discussion agreeably. Scholars have suggested that in most online forums, women are more likely to agree with each other then with men. However, I suspect that when it comes to online political discussion, women will be more likely to agree with men. Surveys suggest that women consider themselves and other women to be politically incompetent. As a result, females may blindly agree with male tweets in discussions of politics.


I would like to thank everyone who made this project possible and I look forward to sharing this research adventure with you!