Thursday, February 13, 2014

The hard numbers on Twitter racism, plus the Taxi Test

Twitter users post 10,000 racist slurs every day, study finds: "Just how racist is Twitter? About .00007 percent racist. ... Demos, a UK research group, has published a new study finding that about 1 in every 15,000 tweets contains a slur. That’s over 10,000 tweets each day. The most common phrase that turned up on the study? “White boy.”"

They do give some nuance, so if you want to quibble, read the short article first.

I was recently looking at the numbers for how hard it is for a black person to get a cab in New York, and I decided to do the math.

Dan Ackman's 2007 article, Giuliani's sorry crackdown on New York cabbies, says, "the evidence showed that just 15 percent of the alleged refusals to pick up passengers involved race. The vast majority were based on destination."j

Calvin Sims' 2006 article, An Arm in the Air for That Cab Ride Home says, "The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s “Operation Refusal” program, in which undercover officers of different races randomly hail taxis, found in its most recent study a 96 percent compliance rate among cabbies."

If 4% of cabbies were generally noncompliant in 2006, and only 15% of those had to do with race rather than destination, cabbies didn’t pick up black people because of their race .6% of the time—which means that in 2006, when any 200 cabbies were deciding who to pick up, only one would make a racist choice. Which is one too many. But it’s far from true that “black people can’t get cabs”, and, as Sims notes, the compliance rate continues to improve.

If anyone has more recent figures, please let me know.