Redcar: where Twitter is a dirty word (actually - lots of them)

The Orkney and Shetland Islands - alongside Oxford - are the most temperate parts of the UK

FFS, why are they so angry in Redcar? People in the North Yorkshire seaside resort, previously famed for its racecourse and steelworks, are the most likely to swear on Twitter, a nationwide BBC study has found.

Scientists at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at UCL investigated patterns of Twitter profanity by monitoring tweets sent from a smartphone with geo-location switched on, from the week beginning 28 August.

The f-word was the most featured swearword in all of the tweets collected over the course of the week, although it only accounted for 2.16 per cent of tweets that were sent.

Other coarse words that featured prominently were “shit” and “arse”. The c-word made up a mere 0.28 per cent of the tweets that were collected, the study broadcast today on the Radio 4 programme Future Proofing found.

Because the tweets were geolocated, Dr Hannah Fry, a lecturer in the mathematics of cities at CASA and her colleague Dr Ed Manley, were able to create a map of the UK corresponding to the use of coarse language.

The Teesville area of Redcar and Cleveland, which includes the tourists spots of Saltburn-by-the-Sea and Guisborough, was found to be the number one area in the UK for the number of profanities, with almost eight per cent of tweets coming from that area containing some kind of swear word.

Redcar’s economic prospects have improved since the blast furnace at the former Corus steel plant was relit in 2012 by new Thai-owner SSI. But that still hasn’t improved the temper of the area’s tweeters.

Three Scottish regions – Clackmannanshire, East Ayrshire and Falkirk – follow Redcar and Cleveland on the “profanometer”, even before the UK’s party leaders descend upon the country to campaign for a No referendum vote today. Blackburn and Mansfield also scored highly for swearing, as did Rochford in Essex.

The even-tempered Orkney Islands, followed by the Shetlands, are the least likely to offend on Twitter, with the residents of Oxford and well heeled Kensington and Chelsea also minding their language.

The survey coincided with the transfer deadline day for football clubs, and the biggest peak in coarse language arrived with the announcement that the Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck was moving to Arsenal, at around 9pm on the Monday night.

Dr Fry said: “Twitter has a reputation for being really the home of angry, aggressive messages that people send each other, but I was a bit surprised that across the entire week, only 4.2 per cent of all tweets contained any kind of profanity. I think it says something a little more positive perhaps about how aggressive or civil we can be to one another.”

Dr Fry added: “Surveying the whole of the UK, it doesn’t appear as though there’s a clear distinction between rural and urban areas, and certainly nothing really to support this idea that people are much less civil to each other within cities. In fact, based on our study – which does contain only a week’s worth of data – most of the top ten are actually taken up by rural areas rather than urban.”

The Future Proofing series asks Can Civility Survive, using the survey to explore how relationships between individuals and communities might be managed in the future.

Future Proofing, 8pm, BBC Radio 4, Wednesday.

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