PROVO — Royce Kimmons, Assistant Professor of Education at BYU, said his interest in the research came from simple curiosity.
“You hear stories from women all the time about being harassed online,” Kimmons said. “I think that often when someone has an anecdotal story about what happened to them it’s easy for people to brush it off and say everyone experiences negativity online.”
So, Kimmons and professors at four other Universities used a computer program to count the number of “positive” and “negative” comments left on TEDx videos posted on YouTube. The computer scanned hundreds of thousands of reviews left on about 600 videos.
What did they find? Women got a lot more harassment than men. They also got a lot more positive comments.
“The scale of the difference I did find was pretty surprising,” Kimmons said. “If you just take a random woman and a random man and see how people respond to them, you would see pretty large differences between them.”
Women TED presenters responded to more negatively on YouTube: Our new study in PLoS ONE on comment sentiment toward TED Talks re gender differences, video format, etc. w/ @veletsianos @tadousay @plowenthal https://t.co/ytI5sZuTdB #edtech #education
— Royce Kimmons (@roycekimmons) June 1, 2018
The study was published this week in the journal Plos One, after nearly a year of rigorous peer review, but Kimmons said it still needs follow up. He said they have theories about the results they received and wonder if some of the “positive” comments the computer rated were actually harassment cloaked in sarcasm.
‘”The way that we measure negativity and positivity is kind of limited,” he said.
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