Author's Note: This is part of a much larger article coming out soon detailing the events of the Bully Hunters controversy. The section became big enough to become its own article.
The Bully Hunters' website gives out multiple misleading or misrepresented statistics like "21 million female gamers have experienced sex-based taunting, harassment, or threats while playing video games online" and, "63% of women polled report being harassed while gaming online." With the current face of the operation Natalie Casanova, or ZombiUnicorn, tweeting out multiple times an unconfirmed nor cited statistic that "3 million women have stopped playin games altogether bc of harassment."
~3 million women have stopped playin games altogether bc of harassment. While you & I might have thick skin, that doesn't mean everyone does nor should any1 belittle the cause. Sexual harassment is a serious issue. it's NEVER okay. If we progress when we stand up for what's right— ? Nati Casanova | ZombiUnicorn (@TheZombiUnicorn) April 12, 2018
Just bc you & I might have thick skin, doesnt mean everyone does. 3 million women Gamers have stopped playing games all together because of harassment. It's not on the victim to "just deal with it" when most of this harassment would be punishable by law if it were said IRL.— ? Nati Casanova | ZombiUnicorn (@TheZombiUnicorn) April 12, 2018
This lead to mental health researcher Platinum asking Natalie for her source, "Hi there. Is there a source for this figure? I tried searching for the study but I couldn't find it. Thank you" (Archive). After asking repeatedly and only getting "watch the stream" or "watch the vod" as responses from Natalie, Platinum tweeted out advising against watching the Bully Hunters April 12th livestream, "As a mental health researcher, I would advise against watching #BullyHunters tonight. One of the people behind it is spreading false data about mental health research and refuses to share the source unless I tune into the stream. Disgusting, selfish, self-promotional behaviour" (Archive). After being questioned by Platinum and others for sources, Natalie tweeted out that she was being harassed by them.
Extremely unprofessional behavior & personal attacks from someone claiming to be in mental health.— ? Nati Casanova | ZombiUnicorn (@TheZombiUnicorn) April 12, 2018
The stream is free to watch & there are licensed psychologists & counselors being interviewed later who will discuss all of this better than I will. #BULLYHUNTERS https://t.co/6GJfgTZfQH
The statistics the Bully Hunters website and Natalie give out are from 2012 study titled Sexism in Video Games [Study]: There Is Sexism in Gaming (Note, the Bully Hunters website actually links to an article by VG 24/7 that talks all about this study). The study was conducted by, Emily Matthew, who is an elementary school teacher in Central California with a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies. Over a course of one week, she distributed an online survey to r/GirlGamers (Survey I Created on Sexism in the Gaming Community), r/gaming (Survey I'm Using to Draft an Article on Sexism in the Gaming Community [X-Post GirlGamers]) subreddits and on social media via Twitter and Facebook, gaining 874 responses. Emily fails to disclose these subreddits she used for the study, which can show bias in the results.
If any and all gamers out there could take this survey for me, I'd appreciate it: http://t.co/Hrv9AGVQ— Emily Matthew (@ImaylimE) August 9, 2012
Platinum, who's currently working on her Doctorate in Mental Health Research, highlights major issues regarding Emily's study in her blog post A Breakdown of BullyHunter's False Data Claims.
For Bully Hunters' "21 million female gamers have experienced sex-based taunting, harassment, or threats while playing video games online" claim, they put in very fine print that this is "projections based on market size estimate of 32.7mm female console gamers in the us by yougov." This is very misleading as the use of the word "have" gives the viewer the idea that this has happened and not just a projection based on the estimated consumer size, as well as out of all female gamers and not just female console gamers. A more accurate statement would have been: An estimated 21 million female gamers may have experienced sex-based taunting, harassment, or threats while playing console video games online.
And for Bully Hunters' second claim, "63% of women polled report being harassed while gaming online", they state it's from a VG 24/7 article titled Study - 63% of women polled report being harassed while gaming online. This is more of a proxy as VG 24/7 got that directly from Emily Matthew's study, with the full quote being, "Women were four times more likely than men to have experienced taunting or harassment, with 63.3% of all female participants responding that they had." Emily stated in the study that out of the 874 participants, "499 (57.1%) of the respondents were male and 356 (40.7%) were female." Doing the math, 63.3% of 356 is 225.348, roughly 225 females.
Doing some more math, 63% of 32.7 million is 20,601,000, or 21 million if you're rounding up. This means that Bully Hunters is using the 63% claim from Emily's study (general female gamers) with estimated market size of 32.7 million female gamers who use consoles to come up with their claim of "21 million female gamers have experienced sex-based taunting, harassment, or threats while playing video games online." Such a large claim of 21 million, from such a petite sample of 225 female gamers (0.001%), is a blatant misrepresentation of the studies results and the studies themselves.
A report, titled Online Harassment, from the Pew Research Center published in 2014 finds that among, "[y]oung women, those 18-24, experience certain severe types of harassment at disproportionately high levels: 26% of these young women have been stalked online, and 25% were the target of online sexual harassment. In addition, they do not escape the heightened rates of physical threats and sustained harassment common to their male peers and young people in general."
However the report also found that, "[o]verall, men are somewhat more likely than women to experience at least one of the elements of online harassment, 44% vs. 37%. In terms of specific experiences, men are more likely than women to encounter name-calling, embarrassment, and physical threats." When the participants were "[a]sked to recall where their most recent experience [of harassment] took place" only "16% said online gaming."
Update (04.15.2018 @ 1:50am): Added Natalie in the first sentence of the third paragraph as she stated on Twitter that the statistics she used also came from VG 24/7 & Emily Matthew's study.
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