It feels like people are always swearing on Twitter, huh? FastCo reports the work of a team of researchers from Wright State University in Ohio which analysed 51 million tweets by 14 million English language users to figure out the dynamics of how exactly people use profanity on the social network.
"Fuck" is by far the most frequently used, accounting for more than one-third of the bad language recorded:
The most popular curse word is fuck, which covers 34.73% of all the curse word occurrences, followed by shit (15.04%), ass (14.48%), bitch (10.34%), nigga (9.68%), hell (4.46%), whore (1.82%), dick (1.67%), piss (1.53%), and pussy (1.16%).
Together, "fuck" and "shit"—and their variants account for nearly half of all the profanity on Twitter, and the top seven words account for more than 90 per cent of tweet profanity.
It shouldn't surprise you that we swear way more on Twitter than in real life. As the study points out, one in 13 tweets contains a bad word, which if we consider that a tweet is the rough equivalent of a verbal utterance, means that on average, humans are about twice as likely to swear in their online speech than in the physical world. 1.15 per cent of all the language on Twitter is foul, but the frequency also changes based on the day of the week.
We all know that we swear when we're angry or frustrated, but the study interestingly points out that in the real-world, people also tend to swear in more relaxed environments because they're less likely to be called out by people around them. This remains true online, but the disparity between relaxed environments and places where people tend to be more buttoned up barely registers. According to the study's conclusion:
We find that users do curse more in relaxed environments, but the differences across different environments are very small, partly due to the fact that Twitter messages are posted in the virtual digital world.