25pc of #Gamergate tweets are from brand new accounts, research shows

28 Oct 2014

While the Gamergate online movement continues to draw attention, a new data mining study suggests 25pc of accounts tweeting about it have been created in the last two months.

The online debate that has morphed multiple times concerning both accusations of unethical games journalism and criticism of the seemingly regular cases of sexism against women in the gaming industry and online in general.

Now, journalist Andy Baio, in a bid to examine how the discussion is spreading online, created a data-mining project to measure all uses of the hashtags #Gamergate and #NotYourShield that have been used by both sides in the argument over a three-day period.

From his findings, there were a total of 316,669 tweets sent about the subject, the vast majority of which comprised of re-tweets accounting for 217,384, or 69pc of the total showing a lack of a discussion on a large scale, with just 39,622 (13pc) being direct replies to those using the hashtags.

In terms of the accounts that are responsible for the Gamergate traffic, the fact that a quarter of all tweets come from accounts created in the last two months would, to the average person, suggest that this is either encouraging people who had never felt the need to join in on the discussion come out of the woodwork, or rather that people are feeling the need to create pseudonym accounts to protect their positions.

However, Baio is quick to dismiss the concept of malicious behaviour with regard to the spawning of these new accounts: “As Gamergate supporters were quick to point out, many of them joined Twitter simply because that’s where the debate was. Some created anonymous accounts to avoid being tracked and identified, while others joined only after being turned away from other forums.”

An incredible map showing the anti-Gamergate side (pink) and their Twitter interactions with the pro-Gamergate side (green). Image via Andy Baio/Medium

More support for Gamergate tweets than those discussing sexism

Based off retweets alone, there would seem to be a higher proportion of people who would support the side who use the Gamergate hashtag as 2,240 users retweeted the user Blocker while only 1,673 users retweeted Anita Sarkeesian who raised issues of sexism.

Again, in total there were significantly more retweets in favour of Gamergate as a whole with only five of the top-20 retweets coming down on the anti-Gamergate side.

The topic which has understandably caused heated discussion from both sides has also shown that there is little middle ground between the two sides with between 90pc and 95pc favouring one side or the other.

Summing up his feelings on his findings: “This network visualisation is as good a metaphor as any for #Gamergate. Two massive, impenetrable hairballs of people that want little to do with one another, only listening to their side and firing volleys across the chasm. Is it over yet?”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic