In the first 26 hours after the verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, Twitter exploded. But how do we figure out the balance of interaction on Twitter? What were people saying, and in what proportion?
The Pew Research Center, a think tank that releases data from surveys (among other things), worked with Crimson Hexagon, a social media analytics company, to comb through millions of tweets about Zimmerman, Martin, Florida, gun laws, race, and fury. Crimson Hexagon looks for patterns in word use to figure out what people are talking about without having to have a human read it all.
The survey found that the most tweets about the verdict were straight news updates, of the “here’s what happened” variety. And that makes sense; even if you intended to tweet a dozen times with a point of view, your first reaction could well be a simple announcement of the verdict. And many would tweet nothing else. 39 percent of the tweets surveyed were of that sort. But close behind, at 31 percent, are described as “anger at verdict.” About half of those tweets were about the criminal justice system and its various perceived failings, slightly less than half were anti-Zimmerman, and the remaining 2 percent were pro-Martin.
11 percent of the tweets focused on media coverage, which, eeep. Sorry.
Only 7 percent of the tweets surveyed showed support for Zimmerman, though that doesn’t include retweets; many news organizations and media types spent awhile retweeting or responding to those who spoke out in favor of the decision, which wouldn’t have shown up in the survey.
Check out the full analysis here.