Geography of Hate: Geotagged Hateful Tweets in the United States (Humboldt State University)

Geography of Hate: Geotagged Hateful Tweets in the United States (Humboldt State University)

A team of researchers at Humboldt State University has produced an interactive map documenting an unfortunate phenomenon across the country—hatred. The team, funded by the University Research and Creative Activities Fellowship, tracked tweets containing hateful words (I won’t repeat here, but the map itself goes into more detail). What is really great about the methodology is that the tweets were not just classified as hateful automatically, but rather teams of students read the tweets to determine their context and whether the words were used derisively or not.

More details on the map and its methodology from the research team:

The data behind this map is based on every geocoded tweet in the United States from June 2012 – April 2013 containing one of the ‘hate words’. This equated to over 150,000 tweets and was drawn from the  DOLLY project based at the University of Kentucky. Because algorithmic sentiment analysis would automatically classify any tweet containing ‘hate words’ as “negative,” this project relied upon the HSU students to read the entirety of tweet and classify it as positive, neutral or negative based on a predefined rubric. Only those tweets that were identified by human readers as negative were used in this analysis.

To produce the map all tweets containing each ‘hate word’ were aggregated to the county level and normalized by the total twitter traffic in each county. Counties were reduced to their centroids and assigned a weight derived from this normalization process. This was used to generate a heat map that demonstrates the variability in the frequency of hateful tweets relative to all tweets over space. Where there is a larger proportion of negative tweets referencing a particular ‘hate word’ the region appears red on the map, where the proportion is moderate, the word was used less (although still more than the national average) and appears a pale blue on the map. Areas without shading indicate places that have a lower proportion of negative tweets relative to the national average.

The numbers that appear in the map during a mouse hover indicate the total number of hateful tweets and number of unique users sending them in each county.

It’s a sad state of affairs that hateful words still run rampant in this country, but perhaps by isolating “hotspots” of hate, we’re one step closer to educating our way into being a country where tolerance rules the day.

The Geography of Hate is part of a larger project by Dr. Monica Stephens of Humboldt State University (HSU) identifying the geographic origins of online hate speech. Undergraduate students Amelia Egle, Matthew Eiben and Miles Ross, worked to produce the data and this map as part of Dr. Stephens’ Advanced Cartography course at Humboldt State University. Read more about the research and methods behind this project at

Twitter data was obtained from the DOLLY project at University of Kentucky, and the map was built on the Google Maps API.


via Bay McLaughlin (@betabay)