I’d like to thank Jeremy Stangroom for his gracious apology for accidentally misrepresenting my article about a sexist photograph on Facebook. It’s a welcome example of how to stop misunderstandings perpetuating or escalating online. I would also like to reciprocate the apology for phrasing my article in a way that contributed to the misunderstanding arising.
Jeremy thought that I had conducted an experiment using flawed methodology, and indeed his criticisms would have been accurate if I had conducted such an experiment using such methodology. However, I hadn’t conducted any experiment. I was writing about two existing Facebook posts, identical other than one included a sexist photo, in order to lead into a call for action to challenge online sexist comments.
Jeremy is also correct that I used a simplistically adjusted ballpark figure to describe the extent to which the post with the sexist photo was more popular, and that this figure is in reality compromised by any number of statistical issues. The article was a political call for action rather than a research paper, and my priority was to establish that the use of the sexist photo had a major impact on the popularity of the post, using a ballpark figure that I felt comfortable standing over, rather than detailing exactly how the increase in popularity can be precisely quantified.
In retrospect I could have just cited the basic figures, even though these were many times higher than when I adjusted them for original audience size. That would have kept focus on my main argument, which is that including the sexist photo led to many more people sharing this post, which in turn led to more sexist comments including rape comments, that some people challenged those sexist comments while most stayed silent, and that the more of us that publicly challenge these sexist comments, the more likely they are to subside.