'ParityBOT' offsets negative tweets with positive message
A Twitter bot designed to send an uplifting message every time it detects a negative tweet directed at a Canadian female politician has tweeted more than 500 times this month.
ParityBOT, created by Edmonton-based gender parity non-profit ParityYEG, uses artificial intelligence to identify disparaging tweets targeted at candidates in the Canadian federal election. The bot tracks more than a dozen features including threats, insults, profanity and sexually explicit content, to determine whether a tweet is considered abusive.
“You know f*** all and deep in your stupid head you know this,” reads one tweet tracked by the bot.
The bot was born out of a perceived need to address the online hate that is considered a barrier to entering politics. Last year, an Amnesty International study revealed more than 7 per cent of tweets sent to women -- or one tweet every 30 seconds -- were abusive or problematic.
“Abuse on Twitter directed towards women … is becoming such a major problem that it’s actually stopping women from thinking about running for office,” said Lana Cuthbertson, co-founder of ParityYEG, in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning.
While ParityBOT doesn’t explicitly call out the offending tweeter or name the politician, the number of tweets sent exposes the volume of negativity on Twitter. More than 100 tweets have been sent by the bot since Monday morning. The messages are pulled from a list of about 200 pre-written tweets by volunteers or new submissions to the bot’s “Positivitweet Suggestions” page. The messages run the gamut from pop culture references and inspirational quotes to women’s history and simple hashtags.
“My persuasion can build a nation. Endless power. Who run the world? Girls!” reads one tweet from Monday morning quoting pop star Beyonce.
“The world is a better place with you in it!” reads another. “Keep using your voice! We need more people like you in politics,” reads one posted during Monday night’s English-language leaders' debate.
The bot is just a small gesture in ParityYEG’s efforts to push for more women in politics, said Cuthbertson. “Still only about a quarter of our politicians in Canada are women no matter what level of government you look at, no matter what jurisdiction,” she said. “We know we have a ways to go to achieve gender parity in politics, and if we can start to reduce some of those barriers across the board, that’s what we need to do to make a change.”