Using Twitter to map homophobia in Italy

Published: May 19, 2014

 Mapping the levels of intolerance across the country – this is the aim of Vox-Osservatorio Italiano, which observes rights in Italy using a system that has been in use in other countries for some time. Italy’s intolerance is traced using tweets containing sensitive words. This enables the identification of areas with a higher level of racism, homophobia, misogyny and discrimination against people with disabilities.

Intolerance and the violence that results from it can, then, be related to the use of certain language. This is an arena in which social networks play an increasingly important role, in which people often fall victim, as feelings become heightened and words of hatred are exchanged. One word can, at times, become a real weapon against those who are ‘different’. This is why the map of intolerance uses Twitter, the social network that, with its 140 characters, can make use of words more than any other social network.

It’s an ambitious project, modelled on the Hate Map produced by Humboldt State University in California. Its founders even chose an innovative path for financing the project: it will launch a fundraising campaign through the crowd-funding platform www.limoney.it.

Vox is a think tank that aims to reflect on rights issues through blogs, news and events. Its mission is to focus on a variety of topics, from Europe to the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, from the rights of individual autonomy, to health and disability, social rights, education, tax, justice, work and so on.

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