Since Twitter feeds were able to be aggregated on Google Maps, there have been Web sites that published all sorts of geographic representations of the things we say. But one of the more recent goes to greater length to determine just how racist and homophobic parts of the country are. Not surprisingly to folks around here, Houston fared pretty well.
The Geography of Hate map, is according to the Web site, part of a project to identify "geographic origins of online hate speech." Twitter's location feature makes this particularly easy and, as you can see from the above map, gives researchers a chance to zero in or specific hotspots.
The study looked for specific racial and gay slurs (disability slurs as well) between June 2012 and April 2013, more than 150,000 tweets total. But before the tweets were labeled as "hate speech," students read through every one of them and assigned a value of positive, negative or neutral. Only tweets given a negative rating were added to the list.
The results favored Houston, which, when zoomed in, shows little or no activity for any of the pre-defined hate terms. Most of Texas's big cities remain off the list. Smaller towns and suburbs were the primary culprits. Areas around Beaumont, Temple, Victoria and the northern suburbs of Dallas were the most egregious.
But overall, hotspots in Texas were somewhat sparse compared to the South and, in particular, the Midwest, which was, frankly, a little surprising. The western half of the U.S., however, had virtually no activity on it between those months.
Web sites and blogs like the Public Shaming Tumblr have highlighted how many people on social media say hateful things, so this isn't really all that new to anyone who spends any time on Twitter or Facebook. But the specificity of the study and the geotagging do bring up some interesting points, the best one being that Houstonians apparently aren't racist homophobes...or at least we don't tweet about it.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.