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Foul Tweets Mapped

Airports, traffic lights, nightclub precincts and sporting venues are the nation’s swearing hotspots according to an online map tracking Australia’s crudest tweets on Twitter.

Esri Australia collated the results from 4.1 million tweets sent between June 2013 and March 2014 from smartphones with location services enabled. “We cross-referenced these tweets against a list of 1000 obscenities, and displayed the rude ones as red dots on the smart map,” said Esri Australia developer Simon Jackson. “The result is a significant amount of red around sporting fields, stadiums and, as you would expect, in city centres.

“The ‘F’ word and all its colourful variations were the most popular swear words tweeted, while ‘WTF’ – a slang expression of surprise – was also up there. Overall, more than 127,000 – or around 3% of tweets – contained expletives.”

South Australia has the dubious honour of having the highest proportion of tweets filled with rude words (3.6%). “Only about 10% of Australians share their location on Twitter so it is only a snapshot, but it is a fascinating one,” Jackson said.

The project found that motorists are regularly ignoring smartphone laws by using their time stuck at traffic lights to send tweets. “Many major intersections and busy routes are highlighted on the smart map by the tweets people send while waiting for a green light,” Jackson said. “Air travellers are also ignoring safety directions to keep phones off until the terminal, with many tweets being recorded from planes still on the runway.”

The smart map also displays tweets using the five most commonly used foreign languages – Japanese (39,623), Malay (37,734), Arabic (29,417), Indonesian (24382) and Spanish (15,180).

Jackson said the same approach behind the map has also proved crucial during natural disasters, provided insights into voter sentiment during elections, and helped to identify health and disease patterns.