‘Geography of Hate’ map shows highest rates of hate-filled tweets

WASHINGTON – If you had to guess from which American states people sent the most homophobic tweets, what would you say?

Would New York surprise you? Texas? D.C.? California?

Thanks to geotagging and a Humboldt State University project called “Geography of Hate”, the answer is no longer a guessing game. The project analyzed all geocoded tweets for hate speech at the county level.

Looking for key words such as “homo,” “dyke,” “fag” and “queer,” students then analyzed the tweets containing those words for context, determining which had actual hate speech and which didn’t, according to FloatingSheep.org, a technical blog.

For example, the tweet “Dykes on Bikes #SFPride” was not counted as hate speech.

Turns out, the eastern half of the United States is far more hateful on Twitter than its western counterpart.

Here’s the map for tweets containing the word “n—–” in a negative way:

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Map illustrating areas with the highest percentages of hate speech in tweets. (Screenshot from "Geography of Hate" project, Floating Sheep)

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Map Key

The project, which used Twitter data from June 2012 through April 2013, found 41,306 tweets with the racist term “n—-.” There were 95,123 tweets with the word “homo.”

All together, the group determined more than 150,000 tweets contained hateful slurs.

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A close-up of Maryland, Virgina and D.C. in the map showing Twitter usage of the word "n——." (Screenshot of "Geography of Hate," Floating Sheep.)

The hateful tweets were “aggregated to the county level and then normalized by the total number of tweets in each county. The map depicts a “comparison of places with disproportionately high amounts of a particular hate word relative to all tweeting activity,” Floating Sheep says.

For example, Floating Sheep points out, Orange County, Calif., had the “highest absolute number of tweets mentioning many of the slurs, but because of its significant overall Twitter activity, such hateful tweets are less prominent and therefore do not appear as prominently.”

Here’s the full interactive map.


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