The University of Sheffield Department of Computer Science has put together a study that shows Twitter posts by MEP candidates from The Brexit Party, Change UK and UKIP generated an unusually high level of abusive replies in the run up to the EU elections.
And The Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, was the most interacted with candidate receiving six times more abusive replies than the second most replied to candidate, Gavin Esler of Change UK.
But the difference was that the abuse in the replies sent to Farage was aimed at other politicians like Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, while the abuse in the replies to Esler's Tweets were mostly aimed at him, mainly due to his use of the term 'village idiot' with regard to the 2016 Leave campaign.
The University of Sheffield said:
"Abusive messages in replies to Farage and other Brexit Party candidates largely centred on disagreement with the UK leaving the European Union, according to the findings. These abusive messages often agreed with and were triggered by the use of divisive rhetoric by the Brexit Party candidates themselves – for example tweets that contained the phrases “betrayal” or “phoney war”."
But it goes on to say that Tory and Labour MEP candidate Tweets did not generate such polarised and abusive replies.
Professor Kalina Bontcheva said: “What these findings, unsurprisingly, demonstrate is that politicians and parties who themselves us..