The history of swearing dates back to at least the Anglo-Saxon days, which means that Twitter has only been around for a smidgen of the time that humans have been leveling verbal filth at one another. But Twitter—which provides a constant stream of raw data about how we communicate with each other—is also giving academics new opportunities to study that old, old habit.
At a conference about social computing held this week, three researchers from Ohio’s Wright State University presented a paper on the subject of cursing, analyzing more than 50 million tweets to find out how much Twitter users curse, when they curse and what types of users are most drawn to four-letter words. As with any research on Twitter, the results come with caveats—like the sample not being completely random and certain attributes for users being unknown. That said, here are 10 takeaways from the study led by PhD researcher Wenbo Wang, with results drawn from some 14 million users: