Alabama & Mississippi Win the Most-Racist-on-Twitter Award Surrounding the Election

    November 9, 2012
    Josh Wolford

Twitter, you can be so great and so disappointing at the same time. It probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that social media is a haven for imbeciles. So much hateful garbage is spewed out in 140-character snippets that it’s easy to just gloss over it. It’s so common that it feels like it’s not even worth it to stop and shake your head.

Bottom line: we know that people are still racist. This study wanted to know where people are the most racist.

Geo-coded data analysts Floating Sheep looked at the prevalance of racist tweets post-election, as compared with all other tweets in specific areas. What they found was that Mississippi and Alabama had the highest LQ (location quotient) for racist tweets with scores of 7.4 and 8.1, respectively.

By comparison, the highest quotient among the rest of the 48 states was 3.6. Among states that received a score, Arizona had the lowest with a 0.2.

Here’s the map:

racist tweet map

And here’s the science behind the racist tweets map:

[W]e collected all the geocoded tweets from the last week (beginning November 1) with racist terms that also reference the election in order to understand how these everyday acts of explicit racism are spatially distributed. Given the nature of these search terms, we’ve buried the details at the bottom of this post in a footnote [1].

Given our interest in the geography of information we wanted to see how this type of hate speech overlaid on physical space. To do this we aggregated the 395 hate tweets to the state level and then normalized them by comparing them to the total number of geocoded tweets coming out of that state in the same time period [2]. We used a location quotient inspired measure (LQ) that indicates each state’s share of election hate speech tweet relative to its total number of tweets.[3] A score of 1.0 indicates that a state has relatively the same number of hate speech tweets as its total number of tweets. Scores above 1.0 indicate that hate speech is more prevalent than all tweets, suggesting that the state’s “twitterspace” contains more racists post-election tweets than the norm.

So, the higher the quotient, the more racist the tweet stream from that state.

Floating Sheep is careful to add the disclaimer that they are looking at tweets, not users – so a small group of users could be responsible for a higher volume of racist tweets.

If you’re wondering about the types of tweets that might be included in this type of study, a quick twitter search of “Obama” + a racially charged term will net some whoppers. Black president or not, blatant racism is alive and well in the Twittersphere. Just ask these walking, talking stains:

These tweets come from California and Texas, states that didn’t even register that high on the scale. Post-racist society, indeed.