Slurs Across America: New Study Maps Out Areas Posting Racist Tweets

May 14, 2013  |  

Social media has a way of bringing to out racist behavior as people make racial slurs and comments without thought and, in some cases, anonymously. And now a new map by Floating Sheep, a group of geography academics, analyzing the use of racist and homophobic terms on Twitter across the United States. The group actually mapped out the use of derogatory statements made, by region.

Floating Sheep examined geotagged tweets from June 2012 to April 2013 and students at Humboldt State University manually read and identified the sentiment of each tweet to determine if a specific word was used in a positive, negative or neutral way, reports NBCLatino. In all, 150,000 tweets were determined to be negative.

Slurs against Hispanics were among the words used in the negative Tweets describing Hispanics or immigrants and the “n-word” targeted blacks.

The state of Texas was found to to have pronounced usage of slurs against Hispanics, which is telling in that the immigration debate is a hot-button issue there. There were other areas of note, “But the areas with significant concentrations aren’t necessarily that close to the border, and neither do other border states who feature prominently in debates about immigration contain significant concentrations,” the authors wrote in a blog post.

Tweeting racial slurs against blacks was not specific to one area, the report found. “[It’s] not concentrated in any single place or region in the United States; instead, quite depressingly, there are a number of pockets of concentration that demonstrate heavy usage of the word,” the academics notes. Floating Sheep also looked at how many unique users were tweeting these words.

“For example in the Quad Cities (East Iowa) 31 unique Twitter users tweeted the [n-word] in a hateful way 41 times,” they explained. “There are two likely reasons for higher proportion of such slurs in rural areas: demographic differences and differing social practices with regard to the use of Twitter.”

Have you seen a lot of racist behavior on Twitter?

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