Study Analyzed 12 Million Tweets for Derogatory Language Against LGBT People, Blacks, Hispanics, and Women
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Louisiana, West Virginia, Buffalo, New Orleans and Arlington, Texas, are among the nation's most hateful places, according to an analysis of derogatory language on Twitter.
Adobo.com, a site that helps tenants find apartments, analyzed 12 million tweets from June 2014 to December 2015, looking for slurs and other prejudiced language against Black people, Hispanic/Latino people, women, gays and lesbians, transgender people, people with disabilities, and people of size, whom the study refers to as overweight.
Overall, Louisiana had the highest rate of derogatory tweets among US states — 1 per 87 — followed by Nevada and Texas. However, West Virginia had by far the highest rate of racist tweets, with 83.2 per 100,000, more than double that of any other state.
Perhaps to avoid singling out one city as the nation's capital of hate, Adobo didn't rank cities according to overall derogatory language. But a look at the site's rankings in individual categories shows that Arlington, Texas, may deserve the dubious honor.
Arlington, a massive suburb sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth, was in the top 10 in four categories of derogatory tweets: anti-Black, anti-Hispanic, sexist and anti-gay.
Buffalo, meanwhile, recorded the highest rate of anti-gay tweets, and the eighth-highest rate of anti-Black tweets, prompting a story about the rankings from The Buffalo News.
“What this tells me is there’s a lot of work to be done," longtime LGBT activist Margaret Smith told the newspaper. "This is about a lot more than marriage. We are our words. Tweeting is a little anonymous, as is online behavior. But right now, there’s lot of people on television giving lots of other people permission to be hateful.”
Adobo notes that its study doesn't take into account in-group reclamation of certain slurs.
For example, the study considered anti-gay tweets to be those that contained "fag," "faggot," "homo," "dyke," "sodomite" or "lesbo." However, Buffalo's LGBT Pride celebration includes an event called the Dyke March.
“It’s a charged word, strong and political," said Smith, one of the event's organizers. "We’ve taken it back. We also know there are those moments, where when we’re using that word, we’re taking a risk that we’re giving other people permission to use it. There’s hate behind it when they use it. There’s love behind it when I use it. It’s a double-edged sword.”
Las Vegas had the highest rate of anti-transgender tweets among US cities, but the study authors said that's likely due to its status as a hub for the adult entertainment industry. The study considered anti-trans tweets to be those containing "tranny," "trannies, "shemale," "chicks with dicks," "man in a dress" and "men in dresses."
New Orleans made the top 10 in three categories of derogatory tweets: anti-Black, sexist and anti-gay.
On a positive note, Wyoming, Montana and Vermont had the lowest rates of derogatory language overall.
Read Adobo's full report here.