Mapping racist tweets

After seeing this post that highlights racist tweets after the election, Floating Sheep took a closer look at the geography. Using an estimate that takes into account number of tweets per state, the southeast came out green.

So, are these tweets relatively evenly distributed? Or do some states have higher specializations in racist tweets? The answer is shown in the map [above] (also available here in an interactive version) in which the location of individual tweets (indicated by red dots) are overlaid on color coded states. Yellow shading indicates states that have a relatively lower amount of post-election hate tweets (compared to their overall tweeting patterns) and all states shaded in green have a higher amount. The darker the green color the higher the location quotient measure for hate tweets.

I wondered about Asian remarks after seeing this, but a quick search was depressing and I stopped. [Thanks, Matt]


  • Did you also map ” cracker” and other reverse ”racist” tweets? What you appear to infer by not defining racist, is that it us one sided…white against black???

    • 1) He didn’t map anything, it’s a link to an external site, 2) “racist tweets after the election” kinda implies election-related racism, i.e. racist comments about the newly re-elected president. In fact, if you follow the link, you’ll see that they were looking for racism directed at Obama – using as a starting point anti-black terms combined with ‘ “Obama” OR “reelected” OR “won” ‘.

      I guess it’s theoretically possible someone somewhere might have called Obama a ‘cracker’ after the election, but I doubt it would be any kind of national trend that could be mapped…

    • The term “reverse racist” implies that there is a correct direction that racist should go. racist is racist.

      • No it’s not How many black people can determine the existence and or quality of very many white people’s lives? Do black folk have any systemic input concerning people of European descent? I think not.

      • Not sure if your’e joking. Being racist has nothing to do with influencing people economically or otherwise. It’s nothing more than misguided hate against a biological group, and black people are just as capable of being ignorant and hateful as anyone else.

      • OgilvyTheAstronomer November 10, 2012 at 5:35 am

        No, Zero, that’s racial prejudice, and it indeed goes in all directions. “Racism” is ‘racial prejudice flowing from the privileged establishment’, so in America it indeed goes white -> black, while arguably in Japan it may go Asian -> others and, perhaps, in Zimbabwe it may go black -> white.

    • There’s no such thing as “reverse racism.” Racism implies prejudice plus power.

      • Citing irrelevant leftist propaganda is not an argument. The painful truth is that by any fair and objective measure minorities are more racist towards whites than the reverse.

      • So then an oppressed, powerless population is incapable of racism?

      • Anthony Iglesias November 9, 2012 at 11:56 am

        Yes, marginalized people are capable of prejudice against Whites. But the lack of institutional power that can have serious, deleterious effects on Whites is minimal. There is no serious trend or movement in the world that is oppressing White people. I agree; there are unfounded remarks made against White people but there is no considerable size of anti-white organizations, if any, as much as there are White supremacist and racist organizations in the U.S.

      • And with that link went all your credibility on any race discussion…

      • ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Have you ever spent time in, say, Chicago? I lived there for seven long years – including trying life on the South Side. Why was it that I, as a minority (gay man) who IS NOT RACIST was in constant danger there? (Mugged four times, too). Why do black people have unfettered access to anywhere in Chicago, welcomed as residents, while European Americans are INCREASINGLY unwelcome to even show their faces in South & West sides – 2/3 of city? Because blacks lack power? They control the City Council there. I may choose to be color-blind in how I live & believe, but I’m NOT ignorant, and you needn’t be, either. Racism really IS racism. It is hate, with & without power. EVERYONE must realize that we’re all in this together.

    • Clarence J. Boddicker November 9, 2012 at 6:34 am

      You’re an idiot.

    • So… saying all whites are going to Hell as president obama’s hand picked clergyman (at his inauguration) did – that’s not racist right? Just wanted to clarify.

    • You may have inferred it but it wasn’t implied. (look up the words)
      There is no such thing as reverse racism. Racism is racism. Think about it. If you don’t understand that you have no right even talking about it.

  • Here’s a map of African American population density in the United States:

    What do you make of the correlation?

    • Nice, there seems to be more intolerance in states with larger population of minorities (African and Latino Americans). Why would this be the case, logically with so much “mixing” of the population, I assume more tolerance and acceptance?

      • It would be nice if that were the case, but a more balanced “mix” of ethnicities doesn’t mean that people are automatically more tolerant, particularly when, on a local level, most people aren’t really “mixing,” but for many reasons, not just because of racism. It’s too easy to say “this is a regional problem,” because it lets everyone else off the hook for talking about and dealing with the problem.

      • Might be because in regions with more diversity, legislation designed to level the playing field has a more obvious and significant impact on everyone. Or perhaps politicians leverage differences in order to motivate voters. In the South, race is a visible difference, and one that people appeal to in order to gain favor.

        While more enlightened leadership in the last decade is helping Atlantans transcend race, it’s still a part of our everyday dialog. Here’s an example:

        Personally, I like the plankton theory (I thought that Gary’s post was especially fascinating — thanks for sharing).

        Regardless of why and how it came to be, racial diversity raises very real issues here in the South that many other parts of the country simply don’t face. I think those tweets are a product of people struggling to deal with it, and, ultimately, doing so in an unproductive way.

        Trust me: The overwhelming majority of Southerners are gracious, friendly, and tolerant — or at least as much so as people I’ve met elsewhere on the globe.

    • I lived in Salt Lake for 10 years, and people liked to get high and mighty about Southern racism. Racism is a force of evil spawned by fear and ignorance, no doubt, but when you live in a state that’s 90% white, and less than 1% African American, it’s pretty easy to say that racism isn’t a problem where you live. So there likely is a correlation, but I’m not sure if it’s the one you intend to imply.

    • does this differentiate between “nigga” and “nigger”?

      • No, the geographics and the intellect determine the pronunciation. You know like: Cracka and Cracker.

  • I may be seeing things but as soon as I saw the posted map, the pattern of dots reminded me of the recent article by Robert Krulwich over on npr.blogs about Obama’s Secret Weapon in the South …

    I see faces in my carpet too so there might be no correlation but it struck me as interesting.

  • Well, is this study only about 395 tweets ? What a small and non-representative corpus ! By the way, it’s true that “qualitative” analysis seems to be much more interesting than the “big numbers”, impressive figures,… presented by big information websites. Another experiment of targeted and qualitatively instructive tweets recovery :

    • I was wondering about the small sample size as well. While such data is interesting from a number of perspectives, this sample is just too small to do anything with (395 tweets spread over 50 states) – the map is deceptively detailed considering the sparse data. Also, I was wondering about the source of the location data. Are these GPS coordinates from mobile phones, location data of internet service providers, or what?

    • Same here, the sample size is ridiculous, and I didn’t see a way to look at the tweets to see how “slur” or “racist” is being defined. It would be interesting to say more data normalized by number of tweets, or maybe normalized by number of unique tweets.

  • I also would like to know if racist tweets by African-Americans were tracked. If not, then this is a biased, worthless endeavor.

    • Like black people calling Romney a cracker after he lost? Yeah… for some reason I don’t think too many white people would be offended by that….

    • I agree with the assertion that ALL forms/colors of racism should be sampled. However, when there’s much apolitical, credible publicity citing groups (not individuals) who were promising to start a race war if Obama was re-elected, then maybe we do have an urgency to know who & where they’re coming from. He is OUR president, for those of us who voted for him, as well as those who did not.

  • What about tweets about killing Romney if he won, or tweets about how Republicans should be kicked out the country, and other similar examples of the lack of tolerance from the left?

    • This left-leaning, Californian has no clue who or where you heard anyone “from the left” tweeting about killing Romney, or that Republicans should be kicked out of the country? Do we have strong beliefs? Hell yes. Are we racist and intolerant of those we disagree with? NO. Watch a few hours of MSNBC to get a personal feel of us “leftists.” I find it instructive to watch FOX at times, to know what my political opponents are saying. Education is a great thing; ignorance is not.

  • You need to cross reference it with population density. You’re making the Northeast look more racist than it really is (not saying it’s not racist at all, but it’s not the second most racist region in the country).

  • I made something similar and it’s still up:

    It maps tweets with slurs in them in real time, plotting them on a map.

    I’m not using a data-analysis provider or anything, so my data is just real-time results. I never really tried to capture long-term results.

    • That is fascinating. Judging from the slurtracker, there are more than 3x the number of slurring tweets about homosexuals than about African Americans.

      • That makes us homosexual, non-racists feel real “special.” Who reading these comments doesn’t yet believe that gays are the last minority group lacking fundamental civil rights, exacerbated by too many people who hate – but don’t know – us. All we want are equal rights. We can’t, wouldn’t want if we could, to “convert” anyone. We want young gays to stop committing suicide. Is it okay for gays to die for their country at war, but not be allowed to marry the one they love? I suspect many of those slurs come from fear of the unknown, or personal insecurities.

    • This is really great. I apologize in advance for requesting free stuff from someone on the Internet, but your idea immediately compels me to want to know more (the mark of a good graphic). Does your search include “nigga” as well? Would it be possible for users to add slurs to the list? Again, I’m sorry if I seem unsatisfied with your labors – this is REALLY cool (I like how new tweets kind of bounce up on the map), and I’ll be using it in tandem with the above racist tweets map in my viscomm class today. Thanks!

      • Hi Bob. I’m glad you like it. I don’t track “nigga” because I felt like 1. the results were overwhelming 2. people aren’t using it in a derogatory way. I could add slurs, yeah, but users cannot at this time. I created a project where you can make a very similar site based on your own search criteria here:

        Good luck in your class.

  • is this where ignorance lives??

  • I can’t believe this project was done (or overseen) by a professor of geography. Rather than trying to find a geospatial relationship between racism (e.g. ANY type of race-based discrimination), the “project” seeks to support an apologist narrative that says, ‘of course, more racist white people’. The environment of academia won’t support objective questioning and research that may (or may not) suggest there would be more racist ‘tweets’ coming from an African-American, Latino, etc., demographic. Rather than creating legitimate inquisition into racism, this “study” seeks only to reinforce the environment of the academy that seeks to condemn whites as racist and bigoted under the banner of diversity and inclusion.

  • Chrissy Tan December 4, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Asians seldom toss out remarks good or bad.

  • subject matter is interesting but mapping raw number using choropleth technique is completely innapropriate and detracts from the point you are presumable trying to make. Try normalising your data first.