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Putting Nevada on the “Hate Map”


How the Silver State ranks with so-called discriminatory tweets

Monica Stephens, geography professor at Humboldt State University, recently published a Google Map that geotagged tweets using the words “nigger,” “fag” and “honkey.” The tweets were coded manually by students as ‘positive,’ ‘neutral’ or ‘negative.’

Her research results are discussed at NPR’s Codeswitch blog.

Like all Google Maps, it’s easy to zoom in on particular areas, such as Nevada.

A point to keep in mind from the researchers: “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” [emphasis added].

Here’s how Nevada looks:

  • So-called homophobic tweets seem prominent in Douglas and White Pine counties, followed by Elko, central Nevada and east of Carson City. North Las Vegas appears to also generate such tweets.
  • So-called racist tweets appear dominant in Elko, Douglas County, the Carson City area and are followed by Reno/Sparks, North Las Vegas and central Nevada (what looks to be Nye County)­.
  • Disability related tweets, referring to the word “Cripple,” appear to only show up from central Nevada – what appears to be Nye County.


Tweets in Nevada negatively referring to “Cripple” on the Geography of Hate map.

A couple caveats: Stephens’ research has been criticized, and, according to the NPR article, “…it turns out, many of the slurs were used by members of the group in question.”

That said, Stephens posted a follow-up FAQ about here study with this point: “ If you are a disgruntled white male who feels that the persistence of hatred towards minority groups is a license to complain about how discrimination against you is being ignored, just stop. You can refer to all of our previous commentary on this issue from November.”

Nevada aside, take a look at how the rest of America stacks up by viewing the map: http://users.humboldt.edu/mstephens/hate/hate_map.html#

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.