Contextual Affective Analysis: A Case Study of People Portrayals in Online #MeToo Stories

8 Apr 2019  ·  Anjalie Field, Gayatri Bhat, Yulia Tsvetkov ·

In October 2017, numerous women accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Their stories encouraged other women to voice allegations of sexual harassment against many high profile men, including politicians, actors, and producers. These events are broadly referred to as the #MeToo movement, named for the use of the hashtag "#metoo" on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The movement has widely been referred to as "empowering" because it has amplified the voices of previously unheard women over those of traditionally powerful men. In this work, we investigate dynamics of sentiment, power and agency in online media coverage of these events. Using a corpus of online media articles about the #MeToo movement, we present a contextual affective analysis---an entity-centric approach that uses contextualized lexicons to examine how people are portrayed in media articles. We show that while these articles are sympathetic towards women who have experienced sexual harassment, they consistently present men as most powerful, even after sexual assault allegations. While we focus on media coverage of the #MeToo movement, our method for contextual affective analysis readily generalizes to other domains.

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