Floating Sheep, a group of geography academics, created the “Geography of Hate,” which maps racist, homophobic and ableist tweets in the U.S. After searching for all geotagged tweets in North America between June 2012 and April 2013, students at Humboldt State University manually read and coded the sentiment of each tweet to determine if a specific word was used in a positive, negative or neutral way. In a blog post, Floating Sheep cited “dyke” as an example: While the word is a homophobic slur against lesbian people, it can also be used positively (e.g. “dykes on bikes #SFPride).
In total, over 150,000 geotagged tweets contained a hateful slur that was deemed negative. Using the data, Floating Sheep determined the ratio of hateful tweets to overall tweets in each county.
“Hateful tweets were aggregated to the county level and then normalized by the total number of tweets in each county. This then shows a comparison of places with disproportionately high amounts of a particular hate word relative to all tweeting activity,” the group said.
Orange County, Calif., for example, has the highest absolute number of tweets containing slurs, but due to its high level of overall Twitter activity, the hateful tweets are less prominent, and therefore are not that conspicuous on the map.
Floating Sheep has three main categories of hateful tweets — homophobic, racist and disability — under which are subcategories for specific slurs. Click through the detailed map, here. And for in-depth analysis of the results, read the entire blog post, here.