Irish abortion referendum tweets point to gender divide | The Cube

Irish abortion campaign
Irish abortion campaign
By Rachael Kennedy
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Women are dominating the use of hashtags to repeal the abortion ban, while tweets linked to "No" tend to be from men.


As Ireland prepares for a historic referendum on abortion rights, an analysis of Tweets suggests that women are dominating conversations linked to repealing the abortion ban, while the other side of the debate is more likely to involve men.

An analysis of Tweets from the past seven days, conducted by The Cube, reveals that females dominate the most popular hashtags used by the campaign to repeal article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution, commonly referred to as the eighth amendment, which imposes an effective ban on abortions. Even Tweets linked to the #Menforyes campaign, created in April, are now more likely to be sent by women than men.

In contrast, male Tweeters are more likely to use hashtags linked to the No campaign, according to the research conducted using the Talkwalker tool.

Of the two main ‘neutral’ hashtags, #repealthe8th and #8thref, females dominate the mentions of the former, whereas men dominate the latter.

Youth talks

Younger generations appear to be dominating the conversation on Twitter, with the 25-34 age group topping the mentions of every single hashtag we researched, and the 18-24 age group coming in second. Statistics for Twitter users aged 35 and above saw a remarkable drop in hashtag mentions in comparison to the 25-34 age bracket.

For example, if we take the most popular hashtag, #repealthe8th, which has been used by both sides of the campaign, we see just under half (47.9%) of mentions were made by Twitter users aged 25-34, and almost a further third (31%) percent by the 18-24 bracket. That’s nearly three quarters of all #repealthe8th mentions in the last week of the campaign made by users under the age of 35. Only 3.6 percent of the mentions were made by those aged 45-54.

While #repealthe8th is on the surface a hashtag for the Yes campaign, it has generally been used on both sides of the debate. Storyful also conducted a study in February with the same findings. 

The second most popular hashtag, only narrowly behind #repealthe8th was #together4yes, used almost exclusively by the Yes campaign, which wants to repeal the law banning abortion. 

In a stark comparison, the pro-life No campaign’s top hashtag, #savethe8th, has only been mentioned 50,000 times in the past week, which is less than half of the mentions of the Yes campaign’s #together4yes.

In fact, if we calculate all the mentions of the No campaign’s most popular hashtags in the past week, the total still does not reach the number of #together4yes mentions.

The gap is not necessarily an indication of levels of support. The low score for hashtags primarily used by the No side could be due to a lesser focus on specific hashtags in the pro-life social media campaign, or, perhaps, a choice made by No supporters to instead use more neutral hashtags such as #8thref and #repealthe8th.

Aside from using hashtags to discuss, debate and share opinions on the referendum, Irish citizens living abroad have been using the hashtag #HometoVote to share travel stories as they make their journey home to take part in the May 25 vote. Among the conversations on this hashtag, we have seen other Twitter users offering to foot the bill for citizens who can’t afford to make the trip, and an #AbroadforYes Facebook group connecting even more Irish citizens with donors. Closer to home, the #VoterMotor hashtag, started by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), provides a space for motorists to offer lifts to ease other voters’ journeys to polling stations on Friday.

_At the heart of Euronews' newsroom, The Cube is a newsdesk run by a team of journalists specialising in social discovery and verification. They comb through social media to find, verify, and debunk stories, in-real time, for our audiences on air and online. _

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