Study: Obama’s reelection drives racist tweet increase from south
A study of hate speech on Twitter in the week surrounding President Barack Obama’s reelection this week concluded that most of the racist rhetoric against Obama emanated from southern states, The Atlantic reported Friday.
In a blog post earlier this week, Matthew Zook, co-founder of the geo-coded data research group Floating Sheep, said an analysis of 395 racist tweets mentioning Obama from November 1-7 were most concentrated in Alabama and Mississippi.
“These findings support the idea that there are some fairly strong clustering of hate tweets centered in [the] southeastern U.S. which has a much higher rate than the national average,” Zook said.
Floating Sheep specializes in analyzing geo-coded data, meaning information specific to a particular region. For this project, Zook said, the group determined a location quotient — a ratio of the number of racist tweets sent from a particular state compared to the national average amount of racist twitter traffic — to gauge levels of concentration.
The three states with the highest quotients turned out to be Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, with North Dakota and Utah also scoring highly.
A protest against Obama’s reelection at Ole Miss University, in Oxford, Mississippi, attracted hundreds of students Tuesday night, including some who burned an Obama campaign sign and shouted racist slurs.
According to the New York Daily News, about 600 students took part in a counter-protest the following night, reciting the school creed, which includes a pledge to affirm “the respect and dignity of each person,” while university chancellor Dan Jones took issue with initial portrayals of the anti-Obama demonstration on social media as a “riot.”
“Some photographs published in social media portrayed events that police did not observe on campus,” Jones said. “Nevertheless, the reports of uncivil language and shouted racial epithets appear to be accurate and are universally condemned by the university, student leaders and the vast majority of students who are more representative of our university creed.”
A study earlier this year of Google searches using racist language suggested that “prejudice cost Obama between 3.1 percentage points and 5.0 percentage points of the national popular vote” in his first presidential campaign in 2008.