In July 2013, Caroline Criado-Perez successfully campaigned to have a woman appear on an English banknote, and was subsequently inundated with misogynistic abuse on Twitter. Over the next few days, this escalated into death and bomb threats sent to several other prominent female figures. Legislative bodies came under intense pressure to deal with the issue, and the DCMS Select Committee announced an inquiry into “harmful online content”. However, there is a lack of research into such behaviour, which makes sensible, evidence-based solutions difficult. With this in mind, Claire Hardaker applied for an ESRC urgency grant to investigate the following questions about online misogynistic threats:

  • What can we learn about the rape threat "trolls"?
  • Why do they make rape threats?
  • What else do the rape threat trolls do?
  • What is the most appropriate structure for this type of data?
  • Once created, what is the most appropriate method for interrogating this type of structured corpus?





 A collection of 300 abusive tweets targeted at Criado-Perez and Creasy has already been procured, and this will be used to construct a much larger abuse corpus, which will be investigated using a mixture of both established and innovative corpus linguistics methods.



Start date
Sunday, December 1, 2013
End date
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Grant holder
Dr Claire Hardaker
Dr Andrew Hardie
Professor Tony McEnery
Dr Paul Iganski
Professor John Baker
Grant amount
Grant reference
Grant type