Twitter Hate Speech Map Pinpoints Racist, Homophobic Hotspots Across U.S.
The most hateful tweeters in the United States tend to live in the eastern half of the country, according to a new map that pinpoints hate speech from Twitter across country.
The map, created by geography students at Humboldt State University in California, looks at more than 150,000 geocoded tweets (tweets that say where the user is located) between June 2012 and April 2013, sorting for those that contained a racist, homophobic or anti-disability word. The researchers then decided whether or not the tweet was using the word in a hateful way.
Explore the map for yourself on the project’s website.
According to our analysis: A majority of hateful tweets are coming from smaller towns and more rural areas. For example, some of the biggest spots for homophobic tweets are along the border of Oklahoma and Texas, and one of the biggest hubs of racist tweets is in a seemingly empty area of western Indiana. There are a lot more racist tweets coming out of an area in the middle of North Dakota than in the larger city of Fargo, for example. Homophobic tweets have a wider spread across the nation than racist ones, which are coming from the southeastern portion of the country more than anywhere else.
The project is a follow-up to a similar study that mapped racial slurs on Twitter in reaction to President Obama’s reelection in 2012. The students used The DOLLY Project (Digital OnLine Life and You), a huge archive of geolocated tweets, to collect data in both cases. This data can be used to track all kinds of tweets. There is also a map of where the word “grits” is most often tweeted (spoiler alert: it’s the south).
The interactive map lets you zoom as far as the county level on the map to pinpoint which counties across the U.S. wrote the most hateful tweets. You can look at all hateful tweets, tweets by category, or just at specific words. The map does not include sexist terms or terms that are offensive to the mentally disabled. Some of the terms shown are sort of outdated, which is most likely why some terms are less frequent than others.
Students Are Watching Ferguson
By Submitted by Monita K. Bell
The world is watching Ferguson, Missouri. Tuning into daily reports of unrest. Weighing in on (or avoiding) conversations about the role of race in Michael Brown’s death. Speculating about who’s to blame. Worrying about what will happen next.
But we’re not hearing much about what it’s like to be a kid in Ferguson, a kid who was supposed to start school two weeks ago, but couldn’t because of the volatile atmosphere, broken glass and tear gas canisters that would impede his walk to school. (School buses do not run in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.)
Educators in Ferguson, however, didn’t forget about the children who should have been starting school. Some teachers held classes at public libraries, and a handful of school cafeterias opened so they could provide lunch to low-income students. Many educators also stepped up and used those “days off” to clean up the debris and restore Ferguson to what it was before the rioting—for their students and for the community as a whole.
Students stepped up, too. They joined clean-up efforts and continued to peacefully protest because they understand the historical significance of this moment. As 12-year-old Leslie Adams told NPR, “At first I was absolutely, absolutely scared … [b]ut then, since I was watching the news, I understood that it was history that was going on.”
Teachers around the United States also understand the historical implications of this moment and know it would be a mistake to assume the events in Ferguson haven’t had an impact on their students. That’s why a number of educators, collectives and educational organizations are sharing resources for addressing Michael Brown and Ferguson in the classroom. For those educators who are nervous about facilitating what certainly will be uncomfortable, difficult conversations, NPR offers some guidance, including a syllabus that teachers created and shared in the wake of Jordan Davis’ murder and perspectives from teachers who have already made lesson plans addressing Ferguson.
Here is a small sample of the growing list of resources available to educators who want to help their students understand what happened in Ferguson, contextualize its place in our nation’s history and empower young people to work for a more just, peaceful world:
- Teaching About Ferguson from Teaching for Change
- Michael Brown from Facing History and Ourselves
- #FergusonSyllabus via Storify curator @neelofer
- Preparing to Discuss Michael Brown in the Classroom from District of Columbia Public Schools
- How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson from The Atlantic
Unfortunately, Ferguson has also inspired some missteps that are harmful to students, like the incident in Selma, Alabama, where a teacher had her sixth-graders reenact the shooting deaths of Brown and Trayvon Martin. But perhaps the most harmful approach of all is simply ignoring Ferguson altogether, which is what Edwardsville, Illinois, teachers have been directed to do.
At a time like this, educators can’t afford not to discuss Ferguson in the classroom, but it must be done in safe, supportive ways. Our students are watching along with the rest of the world, and they need us to be real with them about what they’re seeing. At the heart of it all is the goal of education: to prepare students to engage in the world and to equip them with the skills they need to make it better for everyone.
Bell is an associate editor for Teaching Tolerance.