Can you avoid jerks by using the Twitter ‘Hate Map?’

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 1.10.14 PM

The Internet does many great things, but it also gives hate-mongerers a mask to hide behind. That’s been pretty well-established; there are a horrifying wealth of examples to fortify supporting the idea. And if that weren’t enough, there’s also an interactive map displaying exactly where the most odious comments on Twitter originate, and it suggests that there are many pockets of the U.S. blighted by homophobic, racist, and discriminatory vocabulary. 

The map (which you can check out here) was created by Dr. Monica Stephens and her research team at Humboldt State University, and plots out 150,000 geo-tagged hateful tweets. The same team created a map that showed where the most virulent anti-Obama tweets came from during the 2008 campaign, and they were inspired to create this more general visual assessment after completing that project. Does this mean you can plan your next road trip to avoid pockets of especially rampant douchebaggery? 

Not really. The map is a disturbing reminder that some people still regularly, casually, and malevolently use hateful words, although if you look at it you may make some incorrect assumptions about the most problematic areas. And the areas that appear largely Twitter-jerk free are, unfortunately, not so devoid of miscreants as an initial glance at the map suggests. 

Clicking through the different slurs, you may notice that California appears largely slur-free. However, that’s not actually the case. As Stephens explains on the blog Floating Sheep, “For example, Orange County, California has the highest absolute number of tweets mentioning many of the slurs, but because of its significant overall Twitter activity, such hateful tweets are less prominent and therefore do not appear as prominently on our map. So when viewing the map at a broad scale, it’s best not to be covered with the blue smog of hate, as even the lower end of the scale includes the presence of hateful tweeting activity.” 

So the areas that show up as especially hateful may actually have lower instances of overall negative tweets as other areas – but they’re getting called out on the map for being the areas where hate speech is a higher percentage of overall Twitter activity. 

Since the map just highlights areas where hate speech is a bigger chunk of the conversation on Twitter, you can’t use it to zigzag your way through tolerant pockets of the country and avoid the more horrible ones. But it does serve as a sobering reminder that ignorance is still a huge social problem. Now, if you want to see where the most messed up Facebook or Instagram updates come from, there’s no map for that yet. But since a recent study indicated that some avid Facebook users may propagate racism, it’s reasonable to assume a map showing where Facebook’s hate speech comes from would be just as bountiful as the Twitter Hate Map. 

There are people that make blogs devoted to shaming Twitter and Facebook users with ignorant content, in an attempt to scold people for their bad behavior. While these posts are good at exposing some truly reprehensible writing, they serve more to reinforce the readers’ sense of outrage than to actually inspire changed behavior from the people who write horrible stuff online. 

What will make people stop using this type of language on social media? Twitter is facing a $50 million lawsuit in France because it didn’t initially comply with a request to give up user info for people who made anti-Semitic slurs on the site. While Twitter says it’s protecting privacy, not defending bigots, this incident shows that the commitment to free speech may face push back when it comes to quelling hate speech. And as the Hate Map shows, it’s not likely all the hateful speech will dry up without some sort of prodding – it’ s just too commonplace. 

Music

From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

We've spent the year listening to new albums, digging deep, and culling our master list into 50 favorites. From blockbuster releases to hidden gems, these are the best albums of 2018.
Outdoors

Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find a Lime bike or scooter

Google Maps has added a new feature that helps you find a Lime bike or scooter in just a few taps. The feature currently works in 11 U.S. cities served by Lime, with more coming next year.
Smart Home

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

You know how Uber Pool offers cheaper trips if riders share a car? Well, Uber Eats is currently testing the same idea for meal delivery, and it could mean cheaper orders for customers.
Mobile

Apple's iOS 12.1.1 makes it easier to switch cameras in FaceTime

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.