Tweetment Effects on the Tweeted: Experimentally
Reducing Racist Harassment
Published online: 11 November 2016
Ó Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
Abstract I conduct an experiment which examines the impact of group norm pro-
motion and social sanctioning on racist online harassment. Racist online harassment
de-mobilizes the minorities it targets, and the open, unopposed expression of racism
in a public forum can legitimize racist viewpoints and prime ethnocentrism. I employ
an intervention designed to reduce the use of anti-black racist slurs by white men on
Twitter. I collect a sample of Twitter users who have harassed other users and use
accounts I control (‘‘bots’’) to sanction the harassers. By varying the identity of the
bots between in-group (white man) and out-group (black man) and by varying the
number of Twitter followers each bot has, I ﬁnd that subjects who were sanctioned by
a high-follower white male signiﬁcantly reduced their use of a racist slur. This paper
extends ﬁndings from lab experiments to a naturalistic setting using an objective,
behavioral outcome measure and a continuous 2-month data collection period. This
represents an advance in the study of prejudiced behavior.
Keywords Online harassment Á Social media Á Randomized ﬁeld experiment Á
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11109-016-9373-5)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Replication materials are available on the author’s website, www.kevinmunger.com.
& Kevin Munger
Department of Politics, New York University, 19 West 4th Street, 2nd ﬂoor, New York, NY,
Polit Behav (2017) 39:629–649