Female Politicians Bear Brunt of Cyber-bullying, Study Shows

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Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon, October 10, 2015.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon, October 10, 2015. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Female Israeli politicians are subject to more verbal violence and incitement on Facebook than their male counterparts, according to a new report.

The report, by the Berl Katznelson Foundation, says female politicians occupy six out of the 10 top positions of politicians with abusive messages on their Facebook pages. Furthermore, the report found that instances of incitement against female politicians extended beyond their political views to the realm of the misogynistic.

The study, which was carried out in cooperation with Vigo, an Internet monitoring company, ahead of a conference against racism to be hosted today by the Katznelson Foundation, monitored the number of curses, expressions of racism and incitement to violence on the Facebook pages of politicians over the past three months. The report is part of the foundation’s Hate Report, which is based on a survey of about half a million conversations in Hebrew on the Web and real-time monitoring of expressions of incitement, racism and violence.

At the top of the list, almost tied according to the monthly average of curses and expressions of hatred, are Likud Minister of Culture Miri Regev (3,742) and Meretz leader MK Zahava Galon (3,625).

The Katznelson Foundation report also discovered that politicians on both the right and left draw fire equally, while politicians in the center, such as Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) and Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), draw little. The report’s authors said they found no connection between the size of a politician’s Web presence and the amount of abuse they got. Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor President Reuven Rivlin were among the top 10 targets.

Second and third place on the Katznelson Foundation report list went to MK Sheli Yacimovich (Zionist Union) and MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), followed in order by MK Yinon Magal (Habayit Hayehudi), Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett and Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog.

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