Three ways to map hate


Hate takes a lot of different forms, from the most extremist ways, like killing, to insidious discrimination: difference of salary, discrimination in hiring, insecurity… It can concern everybody but some specific groups are more concerned than others. Faced with this situation, it is interesting to try different ways to improve our knowledge about these phenomenons. Let’s see three examples of mapping hate:

First, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an American nonprofit organization known for its fight against all forms of discrimination, publishes each year a report listing ‘hate groups’ in the United States. The organization defines these groups « … have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics ».


This list is displayed in its website with a map showing the headquarters of these groups and the type of ideas they promote. The number of partisans is not indicated and for more information, the Intelligence Report, published by the SPLC give more specific information. This map is interesting to show us how the most extremists groups are distributed. However, it doesn’t show the hate itself.

The Anti Defamation League (ADL) is an other nonprofit organization fighting against discrimination and specifically anti-Semitism. With the First International Resources, they carried out a survey in hundred countries to identify who have anti-Semitic prejudice and what are the forms of these prejudices.


The survey asks the point of view of respondents about sentences like ‘Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in’ or ‘Jews have too much power in the business world’ (the two main prejudice concerning Jews). This map is interesting because the survey indicates statistics following more precise factors such as sex, age or religion. However, its weakness comes from the map was produced with a survey and all the bias it can have: are the question asked really efficient to declare a person has anti-Semitic ideas? 

Finally, the Humboldt University offers an over view of the forms and distribution of hate in the US using tweets :


With a tool called ‘DOLLY’ (Digital OnLine Life and You) the researchers and their students had read, identified and normalized the hate tweets by the total amount of tweets for each county. So we see the ‘favorite’ kind of hate for each county and its relative importance in relation to other kinds of hate. This map is interesting because it’s not only shows the quantity of hate tweets but also the form of hate which appear the most. However, the software used for the heat map is not correct: it shows a buffer around a point instead of a concentration (one value for each point). Moreover, the big buffers around each point suggest huge areas full of racist or homophobic people while it is just an effect of scale (or zoom).

To conclude, can we say there is a spatial organization of hate? In the SPLC map, organizations like neo-confederate groups are based in the ancient Confederate States of America. The Ku Klux Klan is also particularly present in those states, because it comes from the defeat of the Confederate army. Concerning the ADL map, we can see West Bank and Gaza at 93 % anti-Semite, but with the wars (or the conflicts) is it really a problem of anti-Semitism? In the third map, the tweet ‘Wetback’, an offensive way to refers to an illegal Mexican immigrant appears close to the Mexican Boundary. So, it seems for some specific forms of hate there is an historic legacy.

But in general, with the tools used here, no particular reasons appear to explain spatial distribution. Studying discrimination or hate highlights these extremes and not so frequent demonstrations. The survey and the use of tweets try to study these more commons forms of hate, which are public speaking. These maps aggregate organizations, opinions or tweets, but there is a lack of explanation behind that. Last but not least: which study will show us the daily and more insidious discriminations suffered by some groups?

External links:

The map of the Southern Law Poverty Center:

The map of the Anti Defamation League:

The map of the Humboldt University:

Explanations about DOLLY:

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