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Post submitted by Mitchell Scuzzarella, HRC Digital Media Intern

Researchers from the Floating Sheep project in collaboration with students from Humboldt State University created a “Geography of Hate” map that reveals concentrations of  anti-LGBT and racist sentiment online across the United States.

Racist, homophobic, transphobic and ableist tweets were tracked and plotted on an interactive map after University students manually read and coded them. By manually reading each tweet, the University students guaranteed that the slurs were being used negatively. Of the geotagged tweets posted between June 2012 and April 2013, 150,000 of them contained hateful slurs.

Ratios were used to prevent areas of high Twitter use to immediately dominate the conversation. Orange County, for example, saw the highest number of slurs used in a county. However, due to the high overall number of tweets from the area, the tweets containing slurs were less prominent in comparison.

By gathering the tweets to the county level and comparing the ratio between hateful tweets and number of tweets per county, researchers revealed areas of the country where hateful tweets are prominent.

“The virtual spaces of social media are intensely tied to particular socio-spatial contexts in the offline world, and as this work shows, the geography of online hate speech is no different,” said the Floating Sheep project in a blog post.

The "Geography of Hate" map reveals the vitriolic environment that can make LGBT individuals, particularly youth, feel as though they are lesser than.

According to HRC’s youth report Growing Up LGBT in America; LGBT youth are already twice as likely to experience verbal harassment and name-calling in their schools as non-LGBT students. The Internet is a major source of some of the negative information LGBT youth hear about themselves every day.

Advancing equality requires not just legislative changes, but change in all communities across the country. 

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