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10,000 racial slurs posted daily on Twitter

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10,000 racial slurs posted daily on Twitter

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Legal

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Up to 10,000 tweets containing a racial slur are posted on Twitter every day, a study has revealed.

Researchers at think tank Demos revealed the most common racial slurs used on the site include ‘paki’, ‘whitey’ and ‘pikey’.

However, as many as 70% of tweets using such language were deemed to be using slurs in non-derogatory fashion – often to describe themselves or their own community - sparking debate about the extent to which Twitter truly is a platform for racism and abusive language.

A total of 126,975 English-language tweets from across the globe were analysed over a nine-day period by CASM, Demos’ social media research unit, as part of the project.

Analysis suggests only 1% of tweets used a racial slur in an ideological context within a political statement or in a call to action in the real world. Further analysis found that as few as 500 tweets a day were directed at an individual and appeared on first sight to be abusive.

Demos' report estimates between 50-70% of tweets were used to express in-group solidarity with’re-claimed' slurs used within ethnic groups. It cites 'paki' as one term becoming appropriated by users identifying themselves of Pakistani descent.

Jamie Bartlett, director of CASM at Demos and author of the report, said: “Twitter provides us with a remarkable window into how people talk, argue, debate, and discuss issues of the day.

“While there are a lot of racial slurs being used on Twitter, the overwhelming majority of them are not used in an obviously prejudicial or hateful way.

“This study shows just how difficult it is to know what people really mean on the basis of a tweet. Context is king, and often it’s more or less lost on Twitter."

Full table illustrating frequency of slurs (% = as a percentage of all tweets containing racial slurs)

Expression

% of tweets

Average Daily Use

Cumulative %

white boy

48.9

4,890

48.9

Paki

11.7

1,170

60.5

Whitey

7.9

790

68.5

Pikey

4.1

410

72.5

Coon

3.2

320

75.7

nigga

3.2

320

78.9

Spic

3.0

300

81.9

Crow

2.1

210

84.0

squinty

1.8

180

85.9

Wigga

1.7

170

87.6

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