Please join the CJMD on Wednesday May 1 at 9 am for a virtual talk by Professor Patricia Rossini of University of Glasgow. She will discuss the presence and prevalence of uncivil and intolerant discourse on Twitter.

Video of the talk can be viewed here.

Title: Dimensions of Online Toxicity: The Presence and Prevalence of Uncivil and Intolerant Discourse on Twitter

Abstract: Incivility is seen as an innate component of social interactions online, and researchers interested in online discussions have examined the nature and causes of uncivil discourse, as well as its potential effects. Recently, the focus has shifted to computational methods to detect incivility at scale—but existing research has either approached incivility as a binary construct, or used off-the-shelf algorithms like the ‘Perspective API’. These approaches have limitations because they extrapolate ‘democratic consequences’ from incivility while measuring features that are not inherently problematic, nor indicative, of a toxic public sphere. To address this gap, we developed a multilabel classifier that (1) disentangles uncivil and intolerant online discourse and (2) captures four dimensions of incivility and two dimensions of intolerance. This approach addresses key limitations of binary toxicity classifications, and allow us to understand the pervasiveness of these various dimensions of incivility and intolerance on Twitter discourse over 2020 and 2021.

About the speaker

Patrícia Rossini (Ph.D., Federal University of Minas Gerais) is a Senior Lecturer (associate professor) in Communication, Media and Democracy in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow, UK. Broadly speaking, Patrícia studies the interplay between political communication and technologies, with a focus on digital threats to democracy—specifically, uncivil and intolerant online discourse, mis- and disinformation, as well as (dark) participation and democratic backsliding. Her research has been funded by the British Academy and the Knight Foundation, Google, Meta, and Twitter. In 2023, she received the Walter Lippmann Best Published Article Award in Political Communication for “Beyond Incivility: Understanding Patterns of Uncivil and Intolerant Discourse in Online Political Talk”, given by the Political Communication division of the American Political Science Association.