**Anonymous Comments on Economics Job Market Rumors Traced to Major U.S. Universities**
Anonymous comments with racist, sexist, and abusive messages that have been posted on the Economics Job Market Rumors (EJMR) website for years are now known to have originated from leading U.S. universities, according to recent research. The revelation challenges the assumption that the toxic content on the site was predominantly from online non-economists. The study also raises concerns about privacy, free speech, and online abuse.
**Economists at Top-Tier Universities Linked to Hateful Comments on EJMR**
EJMR, operated by an anonymous individual and not affiliated with any university or institution, has long been criticized for its toxic content. However, the new research reveals that individuals at prestigious universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Chicago are among the users of the website. The paper, authored by professors from Boston University and Yale School of Management, concludes that the majority of EJMR users are economists working in academia, government, and the private sector.
**Debate Sparks Among Economists Over Privacy, Free Speech, and Online Abuse**
The research findings have ignited a debate among economists on social media regarding issues related to privacy, free speech, and online abuse. Some economists, particularly women who have been targeted on the site, hope that the revelations will prompt investigations by colleges and universities into the hateful postings. However, there are concerns that this research could potentially lead to a “witch hunt” among those who participated in the offensive behavior on the site.
**Impact of Bigoted Content on the Economics Profession**
The offensive content posted on EJMR further exacerbates the challenges already faced by women and nonwhite economists who often feel unwelcome in a field struggling to diversify. This is particularly significant as Black Americans are more likely to earn PhDs in mathematics and other social sciences than in economics. The revelation that such behavior exists within the economics profession reflects negatively on the field as a whole.
**Researchers Address Concerns of Privacy and Intentions**
To alleviate concerns about privacy, the researchers emphasize that they do not intend to disclose the identities of individuals involved. The research team used publicly available data to determine the internet addresses associated with more than 7 million posts on EJMR since 2010. Approximately 10% of these posts were classified as “toxic” due to racist and sexist content, including racial slurs and statements promoting gender discrimination.
**Hateful Posts Originate from Top Universities**
The study discovered that about 10% of the posts on EJMR were contributed by users from several hundred universities, including those considered to be the top 25 research institutions. Examples of abusive posts identified by the researchers included statements like, “Things were WAY better when women were focused on rearing children and feeding their husbands” and “The biggest enemies of America are: Blks.”
**Past Criticism and Urgency for Action**
The EJMR site has faced criticism since 2017 when it was highlighted by Alice Wu, an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, for its sexist nature. Olivier Blanchard, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and emeritus economics professor at MIT, labeled the website a “cesspool” and called for it to “clean its act.” Many victims of the site’s abuse hope that by identifying the universities associated with the hateful posts, steps will be taken to prevent future abuse.
The revelations regarding the source of hateful comments on the Economics Job Market Rumors site have shed light on the involvement of economists from top-tier universities. This has prompted debates among economists about privacy, freedom of speech, and online abuse. Additionally, the offensive content on the site further alienates women and nonwhite economists, already struggling for representation in the field. It is hoped that universities will take action to address this issue and ensure that hate speech does not originate from their own faculty and staff.