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Researchers Create “Geography Of Hate,” A U.S. Map Of Racist And Homophobic Tweets

Prompted by the recent prominence of cyber bullying and online hate crime, a group of geography academics called Floating Sheep has a created a map called the “Geography of Hate,” a visual display of tweets that are racist, homophobic or ableist (discriminatory against people with disabilities) across the U.S.

Floating Sheep, the team behind the map of racist tweets in response to President Obama’s reelection, started out by searching for all geotagged tweets in North America between June 2012 and April 2013.

Students at Humboldt State University then manually read and coded the sentiment of each tweet to determine if the given word was used in a positive, negative or neutral way. Only those tweets used in an explicitly negative way are included in the map.

In total, more than 150,000 tweets contained a hateful slur during that time period. To display that data on the map, the researchers aggregated the tweets to the county level and then normalized by the total number of tweets in each county.

The results?

The deep red indicates the highest concentration of hateful tweets, and remember the data is normalized to the county level – so there are no conclusions to be drawn about specific cities.

- Mississippi has the highest level of tweets containing the word “homo.”
- Kansas and Kentucky have the most tweets with the word “spick.”
- Georgie has the highest concentration of tweets using the word “cripple” negatively.

The “Geography of Hate” map is similar to the Global Twitter Heartbeat project’s #tweetbeat heat map, which maps tweets based on sentiment around the world – except this one is specifically targeted at plumbing the depths of Twitter’s dark side.

The main thrust of the project was to demonstrate how online social platforms, particularly Twitter, enable hate crime in an amplified way compared to the past. Do you think that’s true?

Research definitely suggests so. For just one example, in a recent study, Twitter Reaction to Events Often at Odds with Overall Public Opinion, Pew Research determined that Twitterers are often more negative and liberal than others.

The full interactive map is available here.

(Hate image from Shutterstock)

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