Muslim candidates, including Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, endured torrents of hateful, xenophobic and threatening tweets during last year’s campaign season, much of it amplified through bots and other fake accounts, according to a study to be released Tuesday.
The study, by the Social Science Research Council, analyzed 113,000 Twitter messages directed at Muslim candidates.
The threats and verbal attacks flowed so heavily toward Omar (D-Minn.) — who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia and has become a visible symbol of Muslim political aspirations — that the report categorized more half of all accounts that mentioned Omar as “trolls” because they tweeted or retweeted hateful, Islamophobic or xenophobic content.
“All these things that happened online — all this hate, all this controversy — were manufactured.” said Jonathan Albright, a social media researcher at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism and a co-author of the report. “They wouldn’t exist if somebody hadn’t built a platform like this to amplify them.”