Researchers make a map that shows the U.S. states from which the most racist tweets originated following Obama’s re-election.
The day after the U.S. election, Gawker’s Jezebel blog published a slideshow of a selection of racist tweets (warning: the slideshow contains racist and profane words and phrases). “In case you were hopeful that Obama winning a second term was some kind of indication that racism doesn’t really exist anymore, check out Twitter. The amount of hate speech, referring to the president as a ‘n****r,’ a ‘monkey,’ calling for violence and for the south to ‘rise again’ was depressing—and eye-opening,” wrote Tracie Egan Morrissey.
As a result of Jezebel’s post, the Floating Sheep team – who analyze user-created geocoded data – decided to take a look at where the racist tweets originated from. The team collected geocoded tweets – in other words, tweets that were made with location data attached – that included word combinations such as “monkey” and “Obama” or “n****r” and “won.” They then calculated a location quotient (LQ) that indicated each state’s share of election hate speech tweets relative to its total number of tweets:
(# of Hate Tweets in State / # of Hate Tweets in USA)
(# of ALL Tweets in State / # of ALL Tweets in USA)
An LQ of 1 means that a state’s proportion of racists to non-racist tweets is the same as the national average; a score of more than 1 indicates that racist tweets are more common than the national average; and a score of less than 1 indicates that they are less common.
The state with the highest LQs were Alabama (8.1), Mississippi (7.6), and Georgia (3.6). States in the Northeast and on the west had mainly relatively low LQs.
Here is the full list of scores:
The Floating Sheep team have faced some criticism over the statistics – including the fact that the small number of racist tweets identified (395) may mean the results are imprecise – which they’ve responded to in a FAQ.
At the end of the day, whether or not the state-level statistics are meaningful maybe not that important. What is important is that the data clearly illustrates that racism continues to be a problem that society needs to address.
Footnote: Jezebel subsequently named and shamed some of the students responsible for the racist tweets and even went so far as to contact their schools. “Calls were placed to the principals and superintendents of those schools to find out how calling the president—or any person of color, for that matter—a ‘n****r’ and a ‘monkey’ jibes with their student conduct code of ethics,” wrote Tracie Egan Morrissey.
This incident should serve as yet another reminder to people to be cautious about the material they choose to post online as it can create an indelible, permanent record. From this point on, whenever anybody – including potential employers – searches for any of these young peoples’ names, they’re likely to come across the Jezebel post. Of course, many people will likely feel that that’s exactly what these kids deserve.
[Source: Floating Sheep via Jezebel]