Mapping Hate

Dr. Monica Stevens, assistant professor of geography at Humboldt State University in California, has turned her academic focus in an interesting direction. Working with a team of undergrads, Dr. Stevens has sorted through over 150,000 tweets containing racial or sexual slurs and produced a map of America showing the distribution of their origin.

The result is a “hate map” that shows which areas of the United States produced the most tweets, which can be filtered for various types of slur. Here’s New York’s distribution of tweets containing homophobic slurs:

Dr. Stevens explained the purpose of this map to a New York channel:

“So these are just looking at where the tweets are that are most hateful and hurtful. These are the communities where we see gay kids really struggling and needing projects like the ‘It Gets Better’ project,” said Dr. Monica Stephens from Humboldt State University.

Stephens says what makes her research special is that her team actually read every tweet to determine whether it was meant in a negative or positive way. Stephens says places that have high frequencies of hateful tweets, such as Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Massena, should use this as a wake-up call.

Those three cities are in the Adirondack region, or the upper right of the image. More interesting to me is the large red dot between Buffalo and Rochester. Anybody know what’s going on in the Lockport/Medina region?

The full map is available here.

Dr. Stevens contributes to the blog Floating Sheep, and the process is explained there.

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