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Published November 14 2012

North Dakota among worst states for racist Obama tweets; Minnesota 10th

FARGO – A small but vocal group of disgruntled North Dakotans took to the Web after last week’s election to put the state on the map in an ugly way.

According to a group of researchers who crunch online geographic data, the state was among the national leaders in the rate of racist messages on Twitter posted before and after President Barack Obama’s re-election.

The good news is that there weren’t all that many racist tweets thrown out there. The analysis, published by the group Floatingsheep, found just 395 tweets from Nov. 1 to Nov. 7 that included references to Obama or the election as well as one of two explicit racial slurs.

That’s a sliver of the 31 million tweets posted on Election Day alone, although the study only looked at the 1 to 5 percent of tweets that have geographic data attached.

The bad news is that as a proportion of all Twitter activity, North Dakota ranked fourth among the states most likely to produce racist tweets. That was the highest ranking for any Northern state. The rankings also included Washington, D.C.

Minnesota didn’t fare much better, ranking 10th overall and leading all states that voted for Obama.

It’s not as bad as it could be: In his published analysis of the data, Matthew Zook of Floatingsheep wrote that North Dakota and Minnesota were among high-ranking states that had a relatively small number of racist tweets. He said their rankings were driven in part by low overall Twitter activity, as the scores compared the share of each state’s racist election-related tweets to its overall volume of tweeting.

The report didn’t say how many tweets were flagged as racist in each state, and Zook noted that one Twitter user could be responsible for all of the flagged tweets – especially in states with the fewest examples.

Alabama and Mississippi were far ahead of the pack in the rankings, followed by Georgia.

Eight states produced no racist tweets that met the researchers’ criteria, including South Dakota and Montana.

According to a map that showed tweets by location, all of North Dakota’s racist election tweets appear to have come from the Minot area.

The full breakdown is available at floatingsheep.org.

A cautionary note: The language used in the Tweets in question is explicit.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502