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Cursin’ USA: The Twitter Map Of Profanity

It’s interesting, if not particularly instructive, to look at this map of Twitter profanity, showing, ostensibly, where in America you’ll find the foulest-mouth tweeters. Cartographer Daniel Huffman took tweets using profanity from March 9th through April 12th, mapped them out, and the result is this 12 MB PDF map. (It’s hard to read in the smaller form; you might find it easier to get the big version and zoom in)

Lighter shades are swearier, so big cities tend to have more profanity. But the southeast — the Bible Belt! — seems to need its collective mouth washed out with soap, while the plains and mountains are less profane, maybe because the population isn’t as dense (in the literal sense, not that they’re stupid or… oh, you know what I mean).

The map was done for the cover of a cartography journal, and it wasn’t strictly scientific. It’s all for sh-ts and giggles, really, and… wait, see what I did there? That’s a habit I’ve developed over the years. I admit to swearing like anyone else (I’m a Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies fan, so it’s a given), and I’m not a prude at all (I’m pretty much a free speech anything-goes they’re-just-words guy). But I tend not to swear much, in public or private, and when I write, I try to avoid swearing, period. I don’t use “those words” in tweets or on my blog or here, with rare exceptions, yet I don’t mind when others do. And when I have to use a profanity, because I’m used to writing for sites where I have to keep it PG, I instinctively replace a letter or two with hyphens. It’s silly, of course — even a five year old knows what the words really are — but it’s so ingrained that I can’t help it.

How about you? When you post something on Twitter or Facebook or a blog, do you think about that? Do you hesitate to drop the F-bomb? Why? Do you think mom and dad might see it? Are you concerned that potential employers will think less kindly of you? Are you a prim Victorian transplanted to 2011?

Let’s put it this way — did you contribute to the lighter shades on that map? Comments welcome below, profane or clean, but try and keep these clean. I have delicate sensibilities.

HT: MSNBC, The Map Room

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  1. Ahmad says:

    I know that everybody is proud of IRCTC and the scale of its oeptarions but I will believe that IRCTC would have done a good job when anytime of the day I book a ticket and the bank transaction goes through without a problem and I don’t need to wait three or four days to get a refund of my failed transaction. It will not only be a challenge but a matter of pride if IRCTC can make this work this way in spite of the transaction levels they handle. The day we move beyond making excuses and make it work like it is supposed to, we would have truly arrived!Somebody captured it well about Cleartrip and why they use it! No why would I use IRCTC if ClearTrip would work better for me?

  2. ButchyBoy99 says:

    I used to live in Louisiana, so it surprised me to see that the area around New Orleans was not that bright at all but around the capitol of Baton Rouge was one of the brightest areas in the state. Must be due to LSU but I thought maybe, just maybe New Orleans would be the brightest place in the country. I agree with April, the time period definitely would make a difference in the level of profanity.

  3. Bobafet7 says:

    There’s more comments on this thread then people living in Albany, GA

  4. The words and other illumination on how the creator did the map are in the comments at this link:

  5. Corey says:

    I am curious to know what words were considered as profane. Was it just the typical “curse words” or were racist and other insults also accounted for?

  6. Patrick Rose says:

    If I’m writing a piece about things that infuriate me, there will be nasty words. I’ve never had to be nice about what I write, but I don’t go “Ah, my profanity ratio is down. This must be fixed”.

  7. LV says:

    here’s a real time 3d map of twitter around the world. I bet it could be changed to show real time cursing as well…

  8. jimiyo says:

    It would be cool to see a breakdown. What kind of profanity?

    Profanity of Adoration like, “Oh yeah, I love f—ing you” followed by the response “Don’t you f—ing donkey punch me.”

    “This is some f—ing good a– weed.” (Portland/Seattle area)

    Southern Profanity, which would be like… Muttered racial slurs.

    Funny how the Mormon state is least profane.

  9. April says:

    I submit that this data would have been radically different/more pronounced if the sample had been taken during football season. Specifically in the south. I know I personally swear a lot more during that time.

  10. Jules says:

    I curse like a sailor: in my personal blog, on twitter, even during on-air interviews and podcasts. My professional website get the occasional profanity. If people don’t like it, they can read/follow someone else.

    I live in a country that has very little censorship in the media. That may have a lot to do with it.

  11. You are very welcome — the map’s very cool and a great introduction for a lot of people to cartography!

    Personally, I thought the density of profanity would be so thick in New York and Philly and Chicago that they’d glow in the dark…

  12. Thanks for the mention!

    Just to clarify, the map accounts for population density. So, if the mountain areas are marked as less profane, it’s not because there’s fewer people, but because people there were less likely to swear on Twitter (within the narrow limits of the way I sampled).