Anti-Gay Slur Twitter Tracker Tallies Up Hate

This digital tool keeps real-time statistics on the number of times anti-gay slurs are used each day, week, and month on Twitter. Think before you tweet indeed. posted on

1. GLSEN’s Twitter tracker shows in real time when someone uses a derogatory slur:


The tracker was launched as part of the “ThinkB4YouSpeak” campaign back in 2009, but the new version emphasizes shareability. The creators hope to see anti-gay language eliminated from Twitter and everywhere else.

3. With the “live feed” function you can actually see what is being said:

Yet the tracker only picks up the individual words and not the context. For example, the above tweet was referring to a “fag” as a slang term for a cigarette. It is important to remember that many people choose to use the term “dyke” or “gay” in a positive or powerful context.

4. BuzzFeed spoke with GLSEN Public Relations Manager Andy Marra about the tool:


There have been similar projects in the last year or so. How did this tracker come together?

Andy Marra: GLSEN and the Ad Council originally developed the Twitter tracker in 2009. We made the decision to release an updated version with an emphasis on shareability. Our Twitter tool was made to be embeddable encouraging people to post and share on their own website, blog, or Tumblr.

How did you decide on the three slurs — “fag,” “so gay,” and “dyke” — currently being tracked? What about transphobic slurs?

AM: “Fag,” “dyke,” and “that’s so gay” remain the three most commonly heard anti-LGBT remarks in school, which is the audience that we’re trying to reach with the “Think Before You Speak” campaign. The campaign is approaching its fifth year in existence and we are assessing how to broaden the campaign. And that means we are thinking about how to target transphobic language in a smart and savvy way.

5. The campaign has provided downloadable banners and ads:

What would you say to people who argue that changing the use of hate speech on Twitter is lofty but impractical?

AM: We know teens pause when they engage with our campaign. A year after the “Think Before You Speak” campaign went live in 2008, the Ad Council surveyed teens aged 13-16 nationwide on their attitudes and behaviors regarding the use of anti-gay language. Our findings suggested that a higher percentage of teens thought that people should not say “that’s so gay” for any reason (38% in 2009 vs. 28% in 2008). We’re confident our same message conveyed in a different format will have a similar effect.

The tracker’s live feed is incredibly eye-opening. What does GLSEN hope to accomplish with this project?

AM: We want people to understand how easy it can be to casually toss around anti-gay language without realizing the kind of harm it can have on those around us. For teens, tweeting has become an extension of their individual expression. But no matter the medium, our message remains the same: Drop the anti-gay language, because it’s offensive.

8. The campaign also has videos to get the message out there:

Learn more about the campaign here.

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