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Canada: University website tracks anti-gay Twitter comments

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  1. I knew there’d be a lot of homophobic language, but I’m shocked at just how much there was. Depressing.

  2. It is a shock especially coming from a University Campus but sites like YouTube are also full of this type of homophobic language, sites that breed this attitude to the LGBT community. Where is the policing of this issue on the web? Would the black community take this type of constant flak? Just check down the comments for example on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo23oh5KSRo&feature=relmfu . and this is just on some guy’s new car!

    1. “It is a shock especially coming from a University Campus …”

      According to this article…
      http://www.edmontonjournal.com/life/website+tracks+tweets+with+hateful+slurs/7305959/story.html

      …the tweets being monitored come from all over the world. They are not limited to their university campus.

    2. Jon "maddog" Hall 28 Sep 2012, 4:03pm

      Just a note of historical interest:

      In the Unix operating system there was a “spell” command that gathered its “dictionary” from common words used in local newspapers. Interestingly, the word “dyke” was recognized as a correct spelling, but “dike” was not….probably because the newspapers were taken from the San Francisco region in the early 1970s and not the Netherlands.

  3. How do you propose policing homophobic language, JW (second post), when we are not talking about the odd slur but millions in one university campus in Canada alone?

    The only means to curtail this drastically would be via the criminalisation of thought itself, which is both unthinkable and detestable.

    No, we must allow society to continue to evolve and mature in its attitudes towards gay people and not to take perceived slurs to heart every time.

    Taking a sledgehammer to the situation will only ignite a new wave of homophobia and set recent gains in social acceptance back years.

    1. Jon "maddog" Hall 28 Sep 2012, 3:58pm

      I am not sure that all of these slurs were coming from one university campus. I think they were coming from a larger community of Twitter in general. I noticed that some of them had nothing “anti-gay” in them other than the tag #nohomo, which actually had nothing to do with the post that I could see.

      Another simple task that the university could do is to attach, count and publish (both alphabetically and by “top numbers”) the number of times that specific Twitter accounts actually used homophobic phrases. Perhaps people would be a little more careful about what they said if they started seeing their names (real or online) associated with counters.

      1. Good point, Jon.

        Of course what have been construed as being slurs may really be nothing such.

        It is all down to interpretation and how those who are particularly looking for slurs will perceive them to be anyway.

        We need to get a sense of perspective on things and stop making a sport out of looking for homophobia where, invariably, it doesn’t really exist.

      2. Yeah the tweets they are monitoring are coming from all over the world, but still it’s pretty overwhelming. Also, how is attaching ‘nohomo’ to a random post not homonegative?
        There are so many that are like “Hey dude, lets hang out. #nohomo” does it not bother you that they are so afraid that someone might question their sexuality?

    2. The same way racially offensive language is policed.
      Compare the frequency of “Faggot”, and the N word.

  4. Obviously “faggot” is a slur but I’m not sure about “so gay” as I hear this used a lot when the person means something else, like silly. It seems to be used a lot by the young. As how to address the useage of bigoted words how about after a couple of warnings the account of the bigot is closed?

  5. I had a look at it, and it was depressing to see all the tweets rolling through. There were a fair few that were just taken out of context, though – plenty of retweets of a quote from Tom Fenton that “Draco is so gay for Harry”, a few using ‘fag’ to mean cigarette, and I think there was one about flood defences as well.

  6. People will always say freedom of speech takes precedence over censorship, but is hate speech to be tolerated as a liberty?

    Perhaps we are at a time when instead of having software to track/tabulate it, we instead have social media software to prevent it! If computer O/S can have error messages.on key control such as “caps on” or “spell check” it should be possible for future systems to have “Key” “hate language” identifiers/eliminators which prevent homophobic, racial, or antisemitic slurs from being entered.

    When people realize that it is not big brother, but their own actions as the source of inconvenience on the keyboard maybe they will become more cognoscenti of their own language and behavior actions.

    1. Harlequin 2 Oct 2012, 7:45am

      Curiously, if one were to apply such a system using the terms counted on that site, precisely half of the comments on this page(so far) would not postable.

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