Profane Twitter

In: Culture Internet/tech Maps

23 Jan 2011

Daniel Huffman filtered 1.5 million tweets from March and April 2010 and mapped the rate of profanity across America. (via; note: the link below is to a 12mb pdf file)


29 Responses to Profane Twitter



January 23rd, 2011 at 12:52 pm

So- this is cute, but it grabs surrounding data to ‘compensate for low population areas’. That seems like a not terribly great way to go about it, to me. Where there are more people, there will be more swearing… seems like it needs to be scaled by population density, otherwise, like a bunch of almost useless GIS/chartporn that I see, where there are more people, there is more X.



January 23rd, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I don’t know annoyed, using their algorithm the most swearing goes on in the South culminating at the Louisiana/Texas border. Being from Louisiana but having lived in New York and now residing in Los Angeles, I totally believe that


Gregory A. Miedema

January 23rd, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Duh. Looks a lot like a population map. Duh.


Daniel Huffman

January 23rd, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Not sure how this made it on here, but, in answer to the comments above — if you read through the part of the map in the lower left corner which describes the analysis done, you will realize that this is not merely a population map. This is a map of “% of words in tweets which are profanities.” Number of tweets in an area (a proxy for population) doesn’t enter into it. If an area lights up, it’s because, in my limited sample, people there were more likely to swear, not that more people total were swearing. I specifically worked to ensure that this was not simply a population density map. Please understand before criticizing based on your assumptions.


Daniel Huffman

January 23rd, 2011 at 4:50 pm

(Also that may have made me sound totally cranky and mean, and I apologize for my tone).


Max Winter Osterhaus

January 23rd, 2011 at 10:51 pm

My guess is that ppl who would use twitter in a business setting or would possibly have their tweets read by a boss, etc. might clean up the language. Those places would be the higher population centers.


Fernando Castro

January 23rd, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Good work Daniel!!
Very interesting.
I’d like to see something tying the level of education with the amount of cussing, that would also be interesting


Robert Roth

January 24th, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I love this map Daniel–I am glad to see it making the rounds and generating some discussion. Keep doing interesting work!

For those of you interested in Daniel’s work, I want to mention that Daniel also penned an article on the cartographic technique of waterlining for the recently released special digital issue of Cartographic Perspectives (#66); his Twitter Profanity map was featured on the cover of the special issue. You can download the full issue here (open access):



January 25th, 2011 at 8:48 am

I was wondering if this was done per capita or by population. Though I may be assuming, I would think that less people would be tweeting from the rural areas and more from the more populate, that goes without saying.

If it was done by overall population over per capita, this is map is useless in finding the swear rate.

It reminds me of the Red State / Blue State argument on federal funds being used – population will trump less populate areas, however, per capita tells the whole story.



January 25th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Where can we find the list of profanities used? For example, there are words permissible on T.V. that I would consider profanity, such as b###h, c##p, and a##. I would also like to know if racial slurs are included.



January 25th, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Wow, Utah is quite the peaceful place. I guess Mormons don’t swear too much?



January 25th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I’m from Louisiana, too … I think the “hot spot” is just Texans and Louisianians trying to communicate with each other, that’s all!



January 25th, 2011 at 7:39 pm

F*** you and your f***ing map, Daniel. 🙂



January 25th, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that the plains are more polite than the mountains. Seems to me that the opposite is true when compared to a relief map. Maybe you should try using digital elevation data and see if there’s a correlation.



January 25th, 2011 at 8:10 pm

The most obvious conclusion that can be made (as mentioned by a previous commenter): Mormons actually practice what they preach 😉


Daniel Huffman

January 25th, 2011 at 8:10 pm

@P — The title is meant to suggest the 3d swearing surface, where a lot of swearing would generate a statistical mountain of data, and no swearing would be a flat lowland. It appears, though, that I did not consider other peoples’ potential interpretations of the title based on actual physical geography. Live and learn.

@mdc2141 — For more information on the words used (somewhat arbitrarily chosen), look here, especially at the comments:



January 25th, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Heavy profanity in Utah? Who’d a thunk it?



January 25th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

need a bright white spot in north jersey with another near the jersey shore XD



January 25th, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Hell, I was half expecting Atlanta to be glowing like radioactive waste … hehehe … being from Georgia myself, that is … lol!



January 25th, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Next time try using multiple colors instead of shades of red.



January 25th, 2011 at 10:31 pm

looks like a southern thing. As for the mountains – where’s the activity in the rocky mountain range?



January 25th, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I fully understand the map.

It’s interesting how southern Indiana, Kentucky, and eastern Tennessee make up a virtual “nice” valley surrounded by mountains of profanity.



January 25th, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I’m wondering about a correllation between military bases and the data…



January 26th, 2011 at 3:26 am

Wondering what a map with the ethnicity of Tweeter taken into account would look like when laid over this map. Not trying to infer anything about any particular race, just wondering.



January 26th, 2011 at 7:25 am

I’m from the Ozarks in SW MO, and it looks like we have a little “bucket of relief” in this region. All I know is how shocked I am when I travel for business around the country, and I am constantly bombarded by language that would have merited expulsion from my high school classroom. As a side note, my recent trip to the UK proved that swearing in public is NOT limited to the Colonies!


Steve Woodward

January 26th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

For those of you who apparently are not reading Daniel Huffman’s comments, not really reading the map correctly and thus jumping to wrong conclusions, here’s the fine print, taken directly from the map itself:

Profane Mountains, Polite Plains
Profanity on Twitter, March/April 2010
Isolines are based upon an interpolated surface generated from approximately 1.5 million geocoded public posts on Twitter between March 9th and April 12th, 2010. These data represent only a sample of all posts made during that period. Isolines are based upon the average number of profanities found in the 500 nearest data points, in order to compensate for low population areas.

In other words, his data represent the percentage of tweets by geographical area that contain profanities. It is not measuring population or rural vs. urban. In fact, the exercise is designed to exclude those factors. The correlation between use of profanities and urban centers is something the visualization simply makes apparent.



January 26th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Here’s a real time 3d map of what people twit around the world, bet it can be filtered to show just curses.



January 26th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

amusing comments. rife with misguided generalizations about the swearing habits of a given region, yet predicating such conclusions on the assumption that the entire american populace uses twitter and agrees on what words constitute profanity.



February 1st, 2011 at 8:06 am

What’s your definition of “profane?” Did you include (for example) “OMG,” which is short for “Oh my God,” which (in my humble opinion) is profane because it takes God’s name in vain or is a false oath, take your pick. But, we hear “Oh my God” coming from people who would never be caught uttering one of George Carlin’s seven “filthy words.” (Incidentally, his list includes a few words I would not consider profane, but merely rude.)

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