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London - Women are responsible for at least half of all sexist abuse on the internet, a study has found.

Researchers tracked the words “slut” and “whore” on social media site Twitter over a three-week period and found that 10 000 messages contained the slurs in Britain alone.

Worldwide, 50 percent of the 213 000 aggressive tweets containing these insults were sent by women, with 40 percent sent by men. The rest were sent by users or groups whose gender could not be classified.

About 80 000 Twitter members were targeted by the trolling, which occurred at a rate of more than 10 000 posts a day.

The survey by think-tank Demos also indicated that users are being bombarded with references to pornography, even though the minimum age requirement to join the site 13.

Author of the study Jack Dale wrote: “This research reflects the findings of our 2014 report, in which women were as comfortable using misogynistic language as men.

“These figures suggest that misogyny is being internalised and reiterated by women themselves.” The study found that in the UK, 6 500 unique users were targeted by 10 000 explicitly aggressive and misogynistic tweets.

Alex Krasodomski-Jones, researcher in the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, said: “While we have focused on Twitter, who are considerably more generous in sharing their data with researchers like us, it’s important to note that misogyny is prevalent across all social media, and we must make sure that the other big tech companies are also involved in discussions around education and developing solutions.”

Kira O’Connor, from Twitter, said: “Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and is a violation of our terms of service.

“In addition to our policies and user controls, such as block, mute and our new multiple tweet reporting functionality, we work with civil society leaders and academic experts to understand the challenge that exists.”