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Study Analyzes Tweets to Map Racism in America

A group of cartography students at Humboldt State University analyzed tweets that included hate words to map racism in American and discover where the most hateful groups reside.

California students using data from the DOLLY Project looked for 10 slurs in three categories: Racism, homophobia and disability. DOLLY, an acronym for Digital OnLine Life and You, aggregates geolocated tweets for research and analysis.

Studying 150,000 tweets from June 2012 to April 2013, students from Dr. Monica Stephens’ advanced cartography class created an interactive map for the Geography of Hate project.

The algorithm took into account context, so that hate words used in negative ways only made it onto the map. Therefore, a phrase like “dykes on bikes” would be left out of the map because it’s a gay pride reference in San Francisco.

Students found 41,306 tweets that contained the N-word, but the usage was not concentrated in any single U.S. region. Pockets of concentration were found, instead, in areas of East Iowa and Fountain, Indiana.

The map shows a much higher concentration for all slurs in areas on the Eastern half of the country, east of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. However, considering population and social media usage in those states might explain the disparity.

The scale that DOLLY uses is “normalized” to account for total Twitter traffic in each country.

The term “wetback,” a derogatory slang for a non-American, usually a Mexican, who is in the U.S. illegally, is concentrated in Texas.

The highest concentration of the disability hate word “cripple” appeared to be on the border of Montana and North Dakota.

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Sources: The Drum, Daily Mail


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