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Geo-Tagging the Nation's Homophobia

Hate

A new site takes a look at hateful tweets and where they come from, charting them based on homophobia, racism, and disability. The above map is a graphic representation of the combined tweets using "Dyke", "Fag", "Homo", and "Queer". The reds represent greater intensity.

Looks like western Illinois is a hotbed of homophobia. At least on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. This map seems less a map of homophobia concentration and more a population map.

    For the data to be valuable, it would need to chart this information against area population -- i.e. how many homophobic tweets in an area per individual, on average.

    Posted by: Mike8787 | May 13, 2013 10:34:09 AM


  2. You also have to take into account that it's, ya know, Twitter. The playground of bored 13 year olds. Not to say homophobia on it isn't worthy of noting, it's just as an Illinoisan, I don't ever get the sense that I live among a hotbed of homophobia. Quite the opposite.

    Posted by: Joe | May 13, 2013 10:44:11 AM


  3. @ Mike8787: Not exactly. If you look at the Boston-NYC-Philadelphia metropolitan axis, it's at most only light blue (indicating "low hate"), while population density is quite high. There's almost NO coloration at all in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.

    If you click through the link and actually look at the map, you can zoom in and see individual counties. By and large, the red zones DO NOT correlate to major population centers.

    Posted by: Rich F. | May 13, 2013 10:45:28 AM


  4. That's not exactly true, Mike8787.

    At the website, you can open the map in a separate window and zoom in. High population centers like Miami, Atlanta, New York, Boston, Chicago, and California's coastal cities are relatively clear. But if you check out Brownwood, Texas, Sioux City, Iowa, and relatively unpopulated areas of the old Conferacy, not to mention Idaho, you'll see plenty of red.

    Posted by: Hank | May 13, 2013 10:46:59 AM


  5. From XKCD: http://xkcd.com/1138/

    Posted by: Mo | May 13, 2013 10:50:39 AM


  6. Yeah, right. Cuz Illinois, Minnesota & Wisconsin are far more conservative than Idaho, Montana, Wyoming & Mormon Utah, right? Using 'queer' doesn't suggest homophobia. Quoting someone using 'fag' doesn't either. This is a very unlearned, ignorant "study".

    Posted by: Mike | May 13, 2013 10:51:45 AM


  7. That's all fine and good. I'm just pointing out that more densely populated states are more colorful, while the entire Mountain time zone is blank -- an area that is low in population but likely high, per capita, in homophobic tweeting.

    This also does not account for socio-economic and cultural issues. Tweeting is not a universal activity - certain groups are much more likely to tweet than others.

    I guess the point I'm trying to make is that this map is of very little use. All it shows is "anti-gay tweets happened here." It provides no lessons about how homophobia in general is concentrated -- just how homophobic twitter users are concentrated, which is a useless statistic, in my opinion.

    Posted by: Mike8787 | May 13, 2013 10:52:27 AM


  8. They should have included Spanish language slurs. I would like to see how the color of Miami changes when you include the word, "maricon".

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | May 13, 2013 10:54:17 AM


  9. Huh, the West impressed me today. I'm surprised and heartened. OR all the gays ran away to avoid becoming another Matthew Shepherd and those left are under the delusion that there aren't any gays here...

    Posted by: greg | May 13, 2013 10:59:20 AM


  10. This "study" tells us nothing.

    Posted by: Jack M | May 13, 2013 11:09:19 AM


  11. Those of you smart scientists bitching about how the map needs to be adjusted for population and tweets should read the article before posting:

    "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. For example, Orange County, California has the highest absolute number of tweets mentioning many of the slurs, but because of its significant overall Twitter activity, such hateful tweets are less prominent and therefore do not appear as prominently on our map."

    Posted by: Tyler | May 13, 2013 11:22:44 AM


  12. Those of you smart scientists bitching about how the map needs to be adjusted for population and tweets should read the article before posting:

    "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. For example, Orange County, California has the highest absolute number of tweets mentioning many of the slurs, but because of its significant overall Twitter activity, such hateful tweets are less prominent and therefore do not appear as prominently on our map."

    Posted by: Tyler | May 13, 2013 11:22:49 AM


  13. ok, i admit, i zoomed in on my town, and relief - no shading, and not much near us, either.

    i guess it's a good measure of which areas people feel comfortable enough to tweet their discrimination publicly.

    i worry more about those whose discriminate in silence, the ones in the un-shaded areas. you can't identify them as they are busy working behind the scenes against causes you support. i would almost prefer they were open with their hate. almost.

    Posted by: northalabama | May 13, 2013 11:25:07 AM


  14. The bad tweets versus normal tweets ratio is not a valid assessment either, as it does not account for the local variation in the use of Twitter. How Twitter gets used and for what purpose would swamp out marginal traffic purposes, thereby greatly affecting the result. A better ratio might be negative versus positive + negative tweets, but determining what a positive tweet looks like is not easy.

    To make the issue clearer, I would imagine in LA, celebrity tweeting about their project might make up 50% of all traffic, but no so in Miami or Atlanta. Thus, gay-neutral traffic in LA might be a lot higher than in those two places simple as a result of how Twitter gets used.

    Posted by: anon | May 13, 2013 11:30:55 AM


  15. I saw an article about this yesterday and I have doubts about its validity. Not about the amount of homophobia in our culture but that Twitter can be used to track it in any meaningful way.

    First off only about 13% of the population uses Twitter. And most of those people aren't going post homophobic or racist slurs even if they are in fact racist or homophobic. So you're dealing with a very small minority of Twitter users already.

    In fact that it was even possible for a group of students to go through them each "by hand" tells you about the relatively low number of tweets involved. (Facebook comments might give a more representative sample but there are too many of them to go through individually, for example.)

    In that scenario a very small number of people posting & retweeting numerous racist or homophobic slurs could create a "hotspot."

    So I don't think this really gives us much meaningful data.

    Posted by: Caliban | May 13, 2013 11:43:08 AM


  16. Somebody needs to get Nate Silver involved in this. If there are any statistics, they surely are not represented in the map. This is ridiculous. You can't tell a thing from this graphic representation of this alleged "survey".

    Posted by: jamal49 | May 13, 2013 11:47:00 AM


  17. It's not very used at the least resolution. It gets interesting when you zoom in.

    I can't figure out why when you look at the DC area in the greatest resolution there is just a tinge of light blue over Arlington County but whey you zoom out the whole region is red.

    Posted by: Charlie | May 13, 2013 11:59:43 AM


  18. @Charlie

    Good point and it seems the entire map is like this.

    Posted by: BearlyBob | May 13, 2013 12:07:24 PM


  19. Well, this is really just a map of population density, isn't it?

    Posted by: MDK | May 13, 2013 12:12:03 PM


  20. This study is disingenuous.

    As for why the east, midwest, west Texas, is lit up like a Christmas Tree, that's because this is where the greatest population densities in the country are located. The west is still by and large barren except for a few urban centers here and there, and along the coast.

    I do find it curious southern California isn't more lit up. That's strange. Could it have something to do with the huge Mexican and Hispanic population and their use of Spanish and Mexican/Central American slang?

    ================

    And of course, people especially young people use derogatory words like the N-word all the time. Just because a 'bad' word is used doesn't mean it was a deliberately bigoted tweet.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 13, 2013 12:35:06 PM


  21. That should read EAST TEXAS, not west.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 13, 2013 12:37:00 PM


  22. Also interesting: The areas most red in the southeast and parts of the midwest also have huge black populations. This would explain the widespread use of the N-word.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 13, 2013 12:39:13 PM


  23. The article indicates that the context of the tweets used in the study were evaluated by actual humans to ensure that they didn't count any reclaimed/non-bigoted use of words like "queer" or the n-word.

    It helps to read things before commenting on them.

    Posted by: CHRISTOPHER I | May 13, 2013 1:00:13 PM


  24. @Christopher,

    You're correct in my case, I just skimmed it.

    Than the number of tweets was quite small. Again, it's a disingenuous study. Done to attract attention for the authors.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 13, 2013 1:09:14 PM


  25. Sorry, it still seems more like a map of Twitter use. I don't know anyone who uses Twitter, and I live in San Francisco---a supposed hotbed of the technology. I also find it hard to believe that DC is incredibly homophobic and the Carolinas and Florida are not, having spent plenty of time in all four places. Or that the left half of the country is essentially free of homophobia.

    Posted by: Paul R | May 13, 2013 1:40:10 PM


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