It's amazing just how much 140 characters can reveal about the true nature of a person, and nothing demonstrates the wider implication of that better than this list of the most sexist, racist, and homophobic colleges in the United States. Mining data from 2.4 million public tweets, College Stats looked at 1,537 universities, focusing specifically on tweets originating from within one mile of a college campus center in smaller universities, and three miles in larger ones. Using keywords and phrases, they analyzed tweets based on how derogatory they were (a full list of which is available here). They then compiled the information in a matrix considering population and size, and narrowed down the top 10 lists for each specific subsection of derogatory language.
This is far from the first time that people have used public tweets for analysis. In fact, one program even allows you to plug in your username or another user's, and will analyze your outlook on life based on public tweets. We live in an age where our feelings and biases have a seemingly infinite reach on the Internet — things we would formerly keep to ourselves or only reveal to people we've met in the real world are now public information for excavating, and it's fascinating, if not also a little dark, what they reveal about human behavior.
College Stats demonstrated just how far that reach is with this recent study, but I do share these infographics warning readers to take them with a grain of salt. Although there is obviously no excuse for using the kind of language picked up in these key phrases, I do think it's a possibility that some of these campus statistics — particularly for colleges that exist in large city centers, where the students themselves may not even live on campus — could be skewed by tweets from non-students, as there was no control in place to ensure that all of the tweets were from people attending the colleges in question. Bearing that in mind, here are the college areas that had the most controversial tweets, according to College Stats:
Honing in on just the sexist language, which included words like "bimbo" and "slut," among other things I'm not going to type here (but wouldn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination), here were the colleges with the most derogatory tweets toward women:
When the examiners withheld the word "bitch," which is a term that isn't necessarily used as derogatory toward women in wider cultural context, these were the colleges that flagged the most sexist tweets:
A fair number of words were examined to find the most anti-black tweets by college as well. While there is no denying that these tweets happened and they are a problem, I do wonder about blaming the specific colleges in this instance, harking to what I said above about there not being a control. You'll see most of these colleges are in New York and seamlessly settled into the city itself (in fact, Hunter College and Marymount Manhattan are smack dab next to each other in one of the busiest areas in Manhattan), so I wonder if these tweets actually reveal more about racist sentiments in these areas of the city as a whole, rather than the commuting students. Either way, still an important thing to have on radar.
Keywords also revealed some anti-gay sentiments in a lot of universities that might surprise readers — but again, there are discrepancies to account for. For instance, Husson University reached out to Bustle to share that the information is skewed as one of the keywords for anti-gay tweets was flagged for any tweets in the surrounding area regarding the Richard E. Dyke Center For Family Business. This would naturally account for why the data shows a rate 20 times higher than universities even in the second slot behind it, proving that tweets are an imperfect science for data collection at best.
And just because we needed a ray of sunshine after this extreme womp of derogatory tweets, here are the colleges that kept it chill:
Again, it's important to note that there is no way of controlling the factors of whether or not these were actually students tweeting things, and whether or not the user intended to use the language in a derogatory manner. Nonetheless, this is an extremely eye-opening reminder that issues of discrimination are still very real, even in our generation, and that the battle to end them is far from over. And also an extremely eye-opening reminder not to be a tool on the Internet (or anywhere else).
Images: Courtesy of College Stats